Short Story Review: The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allen Poe

The Tell-Tale Heart was first published in 1843 and is a short story by the American writer Edgar Allen Poe. It was then subsequently published as part of Poe’s Book – Tales of Mystery and Imagination.

The story is told by an unnamed narrator that tries to convince the reader that he is not mad but provoked and haunted by the ‘evil’ eye of the old man, taunted almost, and to rid himself of the eye, he must murder the old man that he loved very much. It follows him as he walks us through his calculated and cunning plan to commit the murder, all while declaring his sanity.

What I really like about Poe’s works, is that you can expect his narrators to be unreliable, making the reader unable to really know whether to trust him or not. In this case, the narrator is trying to mask his true intentions and feelings by his attempt to prove his sanity by exercising dissimulation. What’s to say he isn’t using dissimulation on us too?

What I think is both a strength and weakness of The Tell-Tale Heart is Poe’s style of writing, it can be quite maddening, with his short sentences leave me with questions as to the meaning, and his longer sentences are precisely worded and descriptive. It is so carefully worded, which highlights Poe’s exquisite talent as a writer, that it highlights the angle of the narrator’s chaotic mind.

I really like Poe’s work, and I have a copy of Tales of Mystery and Imagination. What I will take forth with me from this piece was his narrators’ deception and use of dissimulation, I like that the reader doesn’t know whether to trust what he says as truth or not.

Poe, E.A. (1843). The tell-tale heart. Retrieved from


Short Stories: A Comparison of Pace

Comparison of pace

The two short stories I have compared are:

  • The Girl-Shaped Jar by Camille Alexa
  • The Perfect Mark by Melodie Campbell

The Girl-Shaped Jar starts slow and a little confusing as to the relevance of the story.  The paragraphs are longer.  Then after three paragraphs the pace increases with a series of short paragraphs, like actions.  Then breaks again to a slower paragraph in which this tone is continuous for the rest of the story.  This is because the main characters thought wander aimlessly and are unstructured.  I don’t feel like there is one section where I was sitting on the edge of my seat, heart beating, hands sweaty, in suspense with the speed of the action.

Where as in The Perfect Mark, starts with bang, bang, bang, short sentences.  The first sentence draws me in immediately.  The first 6 paragraphs are brief and to the point to bring you straight into the action as fast as possible, then the author pauses and slows it down for one longer paragraph which describes the setting.  Then the second half of the story is bang, bang, bang, again.  Suspenseful, mysterious and full of fast paced, short paragraphs.  The story is over before you realise it.