What Themes Are Found in the Story “The Tell-Tale Heart”?

Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart” includes guilt, crime and intelligence among its themes. The story’s first-person narrative has received various interpretations.

Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart” uses rhetorical devices to tell the story of a man who commits a terrible crime. The man appears guilty about killing another man in a situation many describe as being without motivation. The sound of the heartbeat is used to amplify his guilt and to suggest the idea that no one can escape their criminal wrongdoings.

Deeper analysis suggests that it is important to review the period in which the story is written to understand the themes. For example, the murder of Captain Joseph White in Salem, Massachusetts is said to have inspired Poe, along with his interest in mental illness and intelligent criminals.