Monday, February 20, 2012

Heritage of Words - The Tell - Tale Heart

15. The Tell - Tale Heart

The Tell-Tale Heart is a psychological story based on the obsession of the narrator of the story. The narrator kills an old man and confesses to the policemen but still he tries to prove that he is not mad. He claims that crazy people cannot tell their story calmly. In the story the narrator tells us how he murdered the old man, how the idea cropped up in his mind and how he committed the action and finally why he confessed his crime to the policemen.

The narrator and the old man lived in the same house. Every time they met they talked in a friendly way. He loved the old man. The old man had also remained very kind and friendly to the narrator, but the writer hated the old man’s vulture eyes and his looks. For an unknown reason, the old man’s cloudy, pale blue eye incited madness in him. Whenever the old man looked at him his blood turned cold. Thus, he thought of getting himself rid of the old man’s eye by murdering him. So making up his mind to murder the old man, he would get up at midnight and sneak into the old man’s room. For the past seven nights he tried to gain courage to get into the room and murder him. But he could not bring himself to kill the man without seeing his “evil eyes”. Every next morning he used to talk to the old man about how he slept at night.

On the eighth night he was there again to kill the old man. He entered the old man’s room quietly opening the door and lighting the lantern to its minimum so that the tiny ray of light would pass to see the old man’s vulture eyes. Then suddenly he tapped the lantern and the old man sprang up and cried “Who’s there?” In the dark room, the narrator waited silently for an hour. The man did not go back to sleep; instead, he gave out a slight groan, realized that ‘Death’ was approaching eventually; the narrator shone his lamp on the old man’s eye. The narrator immediately became furious at the ‘damned spot’ i.e. the vulture eye, but soon he heard the beating of a heart so loud that he feared the neighbors would hear it. With a yell, he leapt into the room and killed the old man pressing the bed over him. Despite the murder, he continued to hear the old man’s relentless (constant) heartbeat.

After the murder, the narrator dismembered (cut into pieces) the corpse and hid the body parts beneath the planks of floorboards. He then cleaned and brushed the room in such a way that there wasn’t even a stain of blood left behind. By then it was 4 in the morning. He heard a knock on the door. To his surprise he found three policemen standing at the gate. They had come as a routine work to investigate the shriek the neighbor had reported. The narrator invited them to search the premises (area). He explained that it was his shriek due to the bad dream and the old man was out of the town. The officers were satisfied but not ready to leave. Soon the sound of the heartbeat resumed, growing more and more distinct. He became pale blue and turned red with nervousness and superstition that that might be the sound of the dead man’s heart. He grew so nervous that it was intolerable for him. So he raised his voice to muffle the sound at last, unable to stand it any longer, the narrator screamed: I admit the deed! – tear up the planks, here, here! It is beating of his hideous (frightful) heart!

Thus, the story revolves around a young man and his obsession, his intense hatred for an old man’s diseased pale blue eyes, which lead him to kill the old man. True to its little, the protagonist commits a crime and confesses his crime due to his guilt-ridden heart.