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The Tell-Tale Heart

The Tell-Tale Heart

by Edgar Allan Poe

Versions of Reality Theme

Edgar Allan Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart" disrupts our versions of reality, even as we identify with it in ways we might not want to admit. Something sparks our curiosity and forces us to follow the narrator through the chilling maze of his mind. We hear the story of murder through words, and through his version of reality.

Questions About Versions of Reality

  1. Does the narrator's version of reality seem unique to you? Do you know people who see things in the same way the narrator does?
  2. Can you identify with any aspects of the narrator's outlook? Which ones? Or does the narrator seem almost "inhuman" to you? If so, what are some of the reasons?
  3. Does light impact the characters' versions of reality? What about darkness?
  4. Could the story the narrator tells be a dream or nightmare? If so, what evidence from the text could you use to prove it?
  5. The narrator claims he'll prove he's not "mad." Does he? If not, what are some of the flaws in his argument? What makes you think the narrator is sane or insane, at the end of the story?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

The narrator initially suggests that his neighbors are suspicious people. His suspicions prove correct. Therefore, his version of reality is sometimes accurate.

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