Poe's Short Stories

The Tell Tale Heart and The Black Cat

The Tell-Tale Heart and the Black Cat

Overwhelming obsession and guilt often lead to deadly consequences. In "The Tell-Tale Heart" and "The Black Cat," Edgar Allan Poe presents us with two men who each commit brutal murders motivated by overwhelming obsession. The narrators differ in their dispositions but fall victim to the same circumstances. The narrator of "The Tell-Tale Heart" takes pride in the cunningness of his deed and that he is able to recount it with extreme calmness despite his usually nervous state, whereas the narrator of "The Black Cat" is haunted so horribly by his guilt that he tries to erase the whole event from his memory. Even though the murders are very different--one premeditated, one spurred on by a temporary rage--both narrators are haunted by their dark deeds. As a result of the guilt these two men feel, they ultimately give in to their self-destructive tendencies and cause their own downfall.

In the "Tell-Tale Heart," the narrator is characterized by his oblivious approach to his own madness. "In a vain effort to prove his sanity by detailing how carefully he planned the gruesome deed, the narrator makes it abundantly clear from the first that he...

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