University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Tell Tale Heart Analysis
Poe creates horror in The Tell Tale Heart by using literary devices such as irony and similes. There are two kinds of irony that he uses. The irony that he uses is situational and dramatic irony. When the narrator, the man who killed the old man, is done killing the old man, he cuts his body up and puts the body under the floorboards. When the three policemen come, the reader thinks that the narrator will get away with his crime because he executed his crime so well and he hid the body so well.
When the policemen are done searching the house they all sit down and the narrator sits on top of the old man’s dead body. While the policemen are chatting, the narrator hears the beating of the old man’s heart and the sound of it grows louder and louder and louder until finally, the narrator confesses his crime because he can’t take hearing the sound anymore and he thinks the policemen are mocking him. The narrator didn’t really hear the sound of a heartbeat, but the sound of his guilt.
This is an example of situational irony since the reader expects him to get away with the crime, but in actuality, he confesses his crime instead. Three policemen came to inspect the house because a shriek had been heard by a neighbor. The readers know that the reason a shriek was heard is because the narrator killed the old man and while the narrator was killing him, he let out shriek, but only once. This is an example of dramatic irony because the readers know that the narrator killed the old man which resulted in the shriek.
However, the policemen don’t know that. After the narrator killed the old man and buried his cut up body under the floorboards, he heard the old man’s heartbeat. It wasn’t actually the sound of a heartbeat; it was the sound of the narrator’s guilt since he killed the old man. In the story it said “It was a low, dull, quick sound like a watch makes when inside a piece of cotton. ” This is an example of a simile because Edgar Allan Poe compares the sound of the old man’s beating heart with the sound of a watch inside a piece of cotton.