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BOOK CORNER: THE TELL-TALE HEART by Edgar Allan Poe

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Khidki (Window)

–Read India Initiative—

This is only an attempt to create interest in reading. We may not get the time to read all the books in our lifetime. But such reviews, talk and synopsis will at least convey what the book is all about.

THE TELL-TALE HEART

By Edgar Allan Poe

    The Tell-Tale Heart is a short story by American writer Edgar Allan Poe. It was first published in 1843 and is relayed by an unnamed narrator who endeavours to convince the reader of his sanity while simultaneously describing a murder he committed. You could call it self-confession. Since then, some movies have also been made on this particular theme.

    There are only five characters in the story. The narrator, the old man and the three policemen. To me the story appears to be a horror. The entire narration is in first person. Where, the narrator stays with the old man in the same house and is apparently quite fond of him and that also makes him quite friendly. But then an eye of the old man keeps irritating and scaring the narrator who feels it is a ‘devil’s eye’ each time he sees it. He feels the eye has a yellow film because of which it looks like an ‘evil’s eye’ or one could say a ‘vulture’s eye.’

    Even when the narrator is quite friendly with the old man, but whenever he sees that ‘evil eye’ something happens to him. One could call it ‘over acuteness of the senses.’ Upon seeing the eye, he becomes very aggressive and loses his cool. So, one day he decides to murder the old man just to get rid of the ‘evil eye’—you can call it a Nazi’s solution. During Hitler’s time. Nazi’s pursued this methodology of liquidating anything they didn’t like. And that reminds me of the many Jews they had liquidated.

    The narrator soon starts planning for the murder. Consequent to which he enters the chamber of the old man on seven nights. But on seeing the him fast asleep with his eyes closed he goes back. Because he reacts only when he sees the ‘vulture eye.’ The narrator each day carries a lantern along with him. The lantern is covered with a black paper all around. Except for a slit that is kept open and from that, a ray of light almost like a torch beam falls on the face of the old man.

    On the eight night when he enters the old man’s room. He finally finds the evil eye of the old man open. This is when he loses his temper and shrieks out of anger. He then pulls the old man down and overturns the bed on to him and suffocates him to death. But before the death when the narrator enters the room his lantern slips out of his hand and makes a sound and with that the old man gets up.  He looks around for the noise but is unable to find it. And because of the minor mishap the narrator stands still in a corner, so that he doesn’t get noticed. And while standing there in that pin drop silence he listens to the heartbeat of the old man. After, sometime, when the old man decides to go back to sleep he goes close to him when he finds the old man lying maybe half asleep with his evil eye open and this is when he gets enraged and he attacks. After killing him. He dismembers his body and buries it beneath the floorboards of the chamber.

    Upon hearing the narrators scream the cops are informed perhaps by some neighbour. At 4 am in the morning three policemen enter the house to investigate. But by now the narrator has done away with the body. After which he places all the furniture on top of the floor planks so that no one suspects the location where the body is buried.

    The police come and start their interrogation. The narrator very smartly answers all the questions. He feels he is successful in befooling the policemen. And the policemen too, don’t suspect him. He tells them that he has not seen the old man for a couple of days now. Perhaps, he had gone out shopping or even to his village.

    But then things suddenly change when the narrator gets to hear the heart beat of the old man. Initially the beat is low but gradually it starts getting louder. Slowly, he begins to feel scared. Thinking that even the cops are hearing it. But in reality it is the ticking of his conscience that is making the sound and not the heartbeat of the dead old man. So the cops can’t hear it.

    And finally, when he is unable to take it anymore and is overwhelmed with the feeling that the cops are also hearing the heartbeat he screams and confesses. Yes, he has murdered the old man and hid the body below the floorboards.

    This is when he is arrested for the crime.

    Moral of the story: It is hard to carry the baggage of crime solo. Sooner or later, one needs to confess it.   

    I would give the story nine out of ten.

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Synopsis by Kamlesh Tripathi

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https://kamleshsujata.wordpress.com

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