25 The Tell-Tale Heart Quotes For Exploring Your Fears

If you are a fan of the vintage horror genre, then you will love our The Tell-Tale Heart quotes. 

Every now and then, a piece of work so brilliant comes along that it pushes the boundaries of what is possible. 

The Tell-Tale Heart is a classic short story that tells a haunting tale of premeditated murder. 

Check out our The Tell-Tale Heart quotes below to learn more. 

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What is The Tell-Tale Heart?

The Tell-Tale Heart is a short story by American writer Edgar Allen Poe

It is a story that forces the reader to contend with the human psyche and question how we deal with paranoia and guilt. 

Check out these astonishing The Tell-Tale Heart facts below:

  • Poe was likely paid ten dollars for his story. 
  • The Tell-Tale Heart was published in The Pioneer, a Boston newspaper, in 1843. 
  • The United States National Film Registry preserved the 1953 animated version. 

The title is the first thing about this story that stands out to the reader. 

A person might ask themselves what does telltale mean?

If something is telltale, that means it is revealing, indicating, or betraying something. 

This ghastly short story reminds the reader that the heart can betray more than just feelings. 

Poe masterfully explores the mind of a madman, in this case, an unnamed narrator, who is convinced he must kill an old man because of his evil eye. 

The story is brilliant because Poe conjures a universe where the narrator does his utmost to convince the reader of his sanity while simultaneously describing the murder he committed. 

How is paranoia a theme in The Tell-Tale Heart?

Paranoia is when a person experiences an unrealistic distrust of others or a feeling of being persecuted. 

Poe creates a character that personifies both paranoia and mental deterioration. 

The narrator is obsessed with the old man’s eye and feels that he can no longer bear the sight of it.

Further, he believes that to rid himself of the anxiety the eye brings him; he must end the old man’s life. 

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When you read the story, you become immersed in the desire to see the murderer caught and held accountable. 

Yet, at the same time, there is something charismatic about the killer. 

His desire to convince us that he is sane is as compelling as the evidence he provides that marks him as a madman. 

To learn more, check out our The Tell-Tale Heart quotes below. 

Short The Tell-Tale Heart quotes that will chill you to the bone

The narrator in The Tell-Tale Heart walks us through the events leading to a murder. 

1. “The discoloration of ages had been great.”  — Edgar Allan Poe, The Tell-Tale Heart

2. “Object there was none. Passion there was none.” — Edgar Allan Poe, The Tell-Tale Heart

3. “Ha! Would a madman have been so wise as this?” — Edgar Allan Poe, The Tell-Tale Heart

4. “Oh, you would have laughed to see how cunningly I thrust it in!” — Edgar Allan Poe, The Tell-Tale Heart

5. “Now, this is the point. You fancy me mad. Madmen know nothing. 

The Tell-Tale Heart quotes and sayings about going mad

Poe does a fantastic job of conjuring the mind of a madman. 

6. “Yet all this was apart from any extraordinary dilapidation.”  — Edgar Allan Poe, The Tell-Tale Heart

7. “I undid it just so much that a single thin ray fell upon the vulture eye.” — Edgar Allan Poe, The Tell-Tale Heart

8. “Whenever it fell upon me, my blood ran cold; and so by degrees, very gradually.” — Edgar Allan Poe, The Tell-Tale Heart

9. “I was never kinder to the old man than during the whole week before I killed him.” — Edgar Allan Poe, The Tell-Tale Heart 

10. “I moved it slowly; very, very slowly, so that I might not disturb the old man’s sleep.” — Edgar Allan Poe, The Tell-Tale Heart

The best The Tell-Tale Heart quotes about the motive to kill

This harrowing short story breaks down the psychology of a killer. 

11. “I loved the old man. He had never wronged me.” — Edgar Allan Poe, The Tell-Tale Heart

12. “He had never given me insult. For his gold I had no desire.” — Edgar Allan Poe, The Tell-Tale Heart

13. “And every night, about midnight, I turned the latch of his door and opened it –oh so gently!” — Edgar Allan Poe, The Tell-Tale Heart

14. “I made up my mind to take the life of the old man, and thus rid myself of the eye forever.” — Edgar Allan Poe, The Tell-Tale Heart

15. “I think it was his eye! Yes, it was this! He had the eye of a vulture, a pale blue eye, with a film over it.” — Edgar Allan Poe, The Tell-Tale Heart

Famous The Tell-Tale Heart quotes about committing a murder 

16. “And this I did for seven long nights, every night just at midnight, but I found the eye always closed.” — Edgar Allan Poe, The Tell-Tale Heart

17. “It took me an hour to place my whole head within the opening so far that I could see him as he lay upon his bed.” — Edgar Allan Poe, The Tell-Tale Heart

18. “And then, when my head was well in the room, I undid the lantern cautiously, oh, so cautiously; cautiously for the hinges creaked.” — Edgar Allan Poe, The Tell-Tale Heart

19. “But you should have seen me. You should have seen how wisely I proceeded; with what caution, with what foresight, with what dissimulation I went to work!” — Edgar Allan Poe, The Tell-Tale Heart 

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20. “And then, when I had made an opening sufficient for my head, I put in a dark lantern, all closed, closed, so that no light shone out, and then I thrust in my head. ” — Edgar Allan Poe, The Tell-Tale Heart

The top The Tell-Tale Heart quotes about the evil eye

The narrator of this tale was driven mad by the power of the evil eye. 

21. “And so it was impossible to do the work; for it was not the old man who vexed me, but his Evil Eye.” — Edgar Allan Poe, The Tell-Tale Heart

22. “It is impossible to say how first the idea entered my brain; but once conceived, it haunted me day and night.” — Edgar Allan Poe, The Tell-Tale Heart

23. “I scanned more narrowly the real aspect of the building. Its principal feature seemed to be that of an excessive antiquity.” — Edgar Allan Poe, The Tell-Tale Heart

24. “So you see he would have been a very profound old man, indeed, to suspect that every night, just at twelve, I looked in upon him while he slept.” — Edgar Allan Poe, The Tell-Tale Heart

25. “And every morning, when the day broke, I went boldly into the chamber, and spoke courageously to him, calling him by name in a hearty tone, and inquiring how he has passed the night.” — Edgar Allan Poe, The Tell-Tale Heart

To this day, scholars and readers debate if the old man and the narrator are related. 

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Master storytellers realize the power of ambiguity. 

The power of art is that it is open to the interpretation of the audience or viewer. 

When the reader finishes The Tell-Tale Heart, they are still waiting for a definitive answer to the nature of the relationship between the narrator and the old man. 

Since it is not explicitly stated in the story, we are left to speculate with the evidence we have. 

Is it reasonable to believe that the narrator would be so intimate with the old man if they were not related?

Why would he casually be in his bedroom as the old man slept or have days of observation of the eye?

Or perhaps he was a live-in attendant gone mad?

What do you think was the nature of their relationship?

Please be sure to let us know in the comments section below. 

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Clifton Sankofa has Master's degrees in English, Teaching, and School Leadership. He is a veteran educator and school leader. Clifton has built his career around teaching language arts, social-emotional learning, hip-hop(e), and vegan cooking. Across the country, Black and Brown communities die over preventable diseases. Clifton's aim is to help reverse this trend through cultural shifts. Using hip-hop and cultural-centered activities, he educates young people on how to reclaim their health and heritage through sustainable vegan eating, cooking practices, and literacy skills.