(originally published January 1843 in The Pioneer)
One of Poe's most famous works. “The Tell Tale Heart” opens with the narrator's insistence that he is not crazy. He is very nervous, he says, but not insane. He proceeds to tell the story of how and why he killed the old man with whom he lives. This old man had a filmy, frightening, “vulture-like” eye which inspired such intense fear in the narrator that the narrator dreaded to even look at it. On the eighth day the narrator does the gruesome deed, suffocating the old man until his heartbeat can no longer be heard. The narrator hides the body under the floor. The police come by to investigate but find nothing. They stay and talk with the narrator for a while, who begins to hear the sound of a heart beating. The sound gets louder and louder until finally, overcome by guilt and panic, the narrator confesses his crime.
Summary written by Taylor Colegrove, May 2011. Title links to the full text of the story.