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The victim was an old man with a filmy "vulture-eye", as the narrator calls it.
On the eighth night, the old man awakens after the narrator's hand slips and makes a noise, interrupting the narrator's nightly ritual.
But the narrator does not draw back and, after some time, decides to open the lantern.
Ultimately, the narrator's feelings of guilt, or a mental disturbance, result in hearing a thumping sound, which the narrator interprets as the dead man's beating heart.
The story was first published in James Russell Lowell's The Pioneer in January 1843.
The narrator claims to have a disease that causes hypersensitivity.
A similar motif is used for Roderick Usher in "The Fall of the House of Usher" (1839) and in "The Colloquy of Monos and Una" (1841).
"The Tell-Tale Heart" is a short story by American writer Edgar Allan Poe, first published in 1843.
It is related by an unnamed narrator who endeavors to convince the reader of the narrator’s sanity while simultaneously describing a murder the narrator committed.
"The Tell-Tale Heart" was first published in January 1843 in the inaugural issue of The Pioneer: A Literary and Critical Magazine, a short-lived Boston magazine edited by James Russell Lowell and Robert Carter who were listed as the "proprietors" on the front cover. The exactness with which the narrator recounts murdering the old man, as if the stealthy way in which they executed the crime were evidence of their sanity, reveals their monomania and paranoia.
The magazine was published in Boston by Leland and Whiting and in Philadelphia by Drew and Scammell. The focus of the story is the perverse scheme to commit the perfect crime. The story opens with a conversation already in progress between the narrator and another person who is not identified in any way.