Sunday, 29 May 2016

BSc BA English Notes Short Stories The Telltale Heart (Edger Allen Poe) Summary and Questions Answers

BSc BA English Notes Short Stories The Telltale Heart (Edger Allen Poe) Summary and Questions Answers


The story “The Tell-Tale Heart” throws light on the fact that a criminal cannot conceal his crime and the voice of one’s conscience cannot be subdued. It is impossible to ignore its pricking for long.
The narrator of the story decides to kill and old man just because of one of his eyes. That eye is very ugly. He also wants to prove that he is not mad, so he tells the reader how he killed the old man and why.
Whenever the old man’s eye fell on him he felt afraid, and so he decided to kill him. He kept on going to the old man’s room for seven nights. However, he did not kill him because his was always close.
On the eighth night, he was very careful. He found the eye open. He took a lot of time to kill the old man. He enjoyed the fears of the old man and laughed at him. Then he killed the old man. The old man screamed before dying. After killing him, he dismembered the dead body. He concealed the pieces under the flooring of the room.
Some neighbor had heard the screams and he had informed the police. Two police officers came to check the premises. He welcomed them and satisfied them that nothing wrong had happened. He took them to the old man’s room.
Then suddenly he started hearing the heartbeat of the old man. This sound went on increasing. He tried to overcome it but failed. He thought that the police officers knew about his crime and they want him to confess to his crime. He could not bear this situation for long. At last, he confessed to his crime before the police officers.

Question Answers

Story in Outline

The tell tale heart is a tale of horror. It reflects psychology of a killer. He kills an old man just because he does not like the old man?s vulture-like eye. The reason is not sound enough for a murder. But the murderer is not a mad man. He commits the murder concisely and very methodically. He goes to the old man?s house around midnight with a muffled light. He pushes the bedroom door open just a little and finds the man in his bed.
The old man wakes up. The killer waits few minutes. Then he again peeps in and finds the old man lying awake. He looks at the old man?s vulture eye with disgust and bursts in. He pulls the old man off his bed and overturns the heavy bed on him. In this way he smothers( ) the old man to death. Then he chops the dead body into pieces and conceals the pieces under the wooden boards of the floor.
Just then three policemen enter the house. They ask questions about a cry that was heard in the street. It came from the old man?s house. The killer tells them that it might have been his own cry in a dream. He says the old man was not at home and he had left him (the killer) to look after the house. He said he slept in the house.
Then suddenly the killer?s fear of detection gets the better of him, He hears the old man?s heart beating loudly under the floor. The fear goes on growing rapidly till the killer cries out in confession, declaring that he has killed the old man. He is arrested and taken away .The story ends on a note of horror.

Q: Is the killer in the story a mad man?
Ans: The killer tells the story in all its detail. he went to the old man?s house around midnight. He opened the door very carefully. But his hand slipped, and the noise awakened the old man. He sat up in his bed. Peering into the dark. The killer waited for about an hour. But the old man did not lie down to sleep. It seemed he was alarmed. The killer could not bear the suspense. He darted a thin gleam of light on the old man's face. It caught the vulture eye. The killer flew into a fury. He pulled the old man down and smothered him to death under the heavy bed. Then he chopped the body into pieces and concealed the pieces under the wooden planks of the floor. He did all this dirty job very quietly and neatly.
The killer does the dirty job very cautiously and methodically. A madman could not have been so cool and cautious. So the killer cannot be regarded as a madman. But the reason for which he kills the old man is not sound enough for murder. A normal man cannot commit murder for such a flimsy reason. Nobody in his senses can kill a man just for his ugly appearance. Therefore the killer is not a normal man in full possession of his senses.
The reason, for which the killer confesses the murder, is again inadequate( ). It is impossible for a human heart to go on beating after death. But the killer in this story says he clearly heard the dead old man?s heart beating under the floor.
On the bases of these two pieces of the killer?s reasoning we can say that he is not a normal human being. There is something seriously abnormal and dangerous in his nature.

Q: what happens after the murder?
Ans: By 4 O'clock the killer had disposed off the old man's dead-body. Just then there came a knock on the door. He opened the door. Three policemen entered the room. They told him that some of the neighbors had reported a cry in that house. The killer confidently told them that it was his own cry during sleep. He said the old man was not at home.
The policeman searched the house, but found nothing to rouse suspicion. The killer felt so safe that he began to chat with them. Suddenly he was startled by the noise of the dead man?s heart beating under the floor. He tried to keep cool, but the noise became louder. He thought the policemen were also hearing that noise. He got so nervous that he confessed the murder and handed himself over to the police. 
This part of the story reveals the effect of fear on the emotions of a weak man after committing a crime. He is afraid of exposure. The fear keeps haunting him till he is obliged to get rid of it either by coming out with a straight confession or by killing himself. It depends on the nature of the man. The killer in this story takes the first alternative. He at first tries his best to hush up the fear. He goes on speaking loudly and quickly in order to silence the voice of fear in his heart, and give the impression that he has nothing to hide. But the fear is too strong, so he suddenly breaks down and comes out with an open confession.

Written by: Asad Hussain

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