The Tell Tale Heart is a short story about a nameless narrator who commits murder. The narrator kills an old man who had a blue vulture like eye that made the narrator very uncomfortable. He plans the murder, executes it, and hides the body of the old man in the floorboard. The story falls under the gothic genre (Snodgrass, 2005). The story falls under the gothic category because it is a horror story that tells how a young narrator kills an old man in cold blood and dismembers his body in order to conceal his crime.
The killer claims he is sane and goes into details to explain how he executed the murder. However, when the police came to the Old Man’s house he gives himself away to the police because he hears the heart of the old man beating behind the floorboard and this incident may suggest that the narrator is in fact insane. The author of the story is Edgar Allan Poe an American author who was born on January 19, 1809 in Boston Massachusetts.
His parents David and Elizabeth died before Poe celebrated his second birthday. After their death, he lived with John and Frances Allan, a childless couple. His childhood was sad, he experienced death of his loved at a young age, and the deaths influenced his works, which have the theme of grisly deaths (Meyer, 2000). Poe’s s misery and suffering reverberates in his works and in popular culture today long after his death.
Poe’s story is culturally significant as it shows how the society was during his time. The people were beginning to have an interest in moral insanity (Bynum, 1989). For instance, it is difficult to tell why the narrator killed the old man at the end of the story was it insanity or plan evil disguised as fear of the pale blue eye? The narrator says that he loved the old man and the man had never wronged him yet he still kills the Old man.
The narrator’s sense of morality seems to be suspended because the brutal killing of the old man does not prick his or her conscience but disturbed by the thought that the police know who has committed the murder and only toying with the narrator’s mind. The story is economically successful even though Poe was not able to reap big economical gains from it and his other works and struggled economically.
The story is underpinned in the popular culture as people try to explain murders in which the perpetrators confess (Bloom, 2002). However, the story is economically successful because it has a large following today and it is still widely read. Moreover, the story has been adapted into the popular culture into various media such as television programs, movies that are widely watched and popular such as the Simpsons.
Lastly, the story reinforces the cultural values of moral insanity as the story tries to explain why some people commit horrendous murders to their beloved ones without a valid cause. In the society today, it is common to hear of stories about people killing people close to them for very funny reason like the prisoner in a jail who killed his cellmate because he heard voices tell him to commit the murder (Burrell, 2001).
The Tell Tale Heart is still a relevant story today as it shows how human beings can be demented and invokes people to look more into the lives and psychology mind of the people who commit despicable murders.
Bloom, H. (2002). Edgar Allan Poe. New York: Infobase Publishing
Burrell, I. (2001). Murderer who mutilated inmate locked up for life. Retrieved June 3, 2011, from http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/this-britain/murderer-who-mutilated-inmate-locked-up-for-life-692134.html
Bynum, P.M. (1989). The Tell Tale Heart and other stories. Ed. Bloom Harold. Retrieved June 3, 2011, from http://www.scribd.com/doc/49889760/The-Tell-Tale-Heart-and-Other-Stories-Edgar-Allan-Poe-Bloom-s-Modern-Critical-Interpretations
Meyers. J. (2000). Edgar Allan Poe: his life and legacy. New York: Cooper Square Press.
Snodgrass, M.E. Encyclopedia of Gothic literature. New York: Infobase Publishing.