Literature / The Tell-Tale Heart

"The Tell-Tale Heart" is an 1843 short story written by Edgar Allan Poe. It is a classic of Gothic Horror and one of his most famous, adapted and referenced works next to The Raven.

The narrator tells you nothing about their life, not even their name or gender, except for the fact that they are not mad! They go on to tell you about the methodical, patient, and extremely thorough way that they set about committing murder.

Read it here or hear it read here.

In 1953 an acclaimed animated short film of The Tell-Tale Heart was produced by UPA. It is #24 on The 50 Greatest Cartoons list. The film was directed by Ted Parmalee, with the story read by none other than James Mason.


  • Unreliable Narrator: The Narrator insists he's sane, but his precision and rationalizing of how well he planned the murder reveal he's an overly nervous, paranoid monomaniac.
  • Villain Protagonist: Our narrator is a murderer, and his tale concerns the murder he committed.

Tropes found in the 1953 cartoon:

  • Animated Adaptation: One which uses a very effective minimalist style, with angular shapes and little movement.
  • Chiaroscuro: We never see the old house well-lit or in daytime; it's always dark and spooky.
  • Macabre Moth Motif: A moth flitting through the old man's room and scaring him makes things just that much creepier.
  • P.O.V. Cam: After an establishing shot the entire short takes place from the perspective of the narrator.