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The Tell Tale Heart Lesson Plans | The Tell Tale Heart Summary


“The Tell-Tale Heart” is a dark and eerie tale of a man’s unhealthy obsession that leads him to commit murder. However, it is his paranoia that gets him caught. It's a suspenseful story and one of Poe's well known pieces, perfect for chilly days in the Fall.

Student Activities for The Tell-Tale Heart Include:




Create a Storyboard*


A Quick Synopsis of “The Tell-Tale Heart” (Contains Plot Spoilers)

The story begins with the unnamed narrator wanting to prove his sanity to the readers. He lived in the same building as an old man with a “vulture eye”. As the story progresses, the reader learns that the narrator has become upset by the old man’s eye, which is a piercing blue color, with a white film over it. Tension builds as the narrator describes how his obsession has taken over, and he plots to kill the old man to get rid of the eye's gaze. Each night, the narrator goes into the old man’s room as he sleeps, intending to kill him. He cannot do it when the man is asleep, because his eyes are shut, and he looks peaceful. One night, the narrator creeps in and startles the old man, who screams. As the narrator glares at the eye, he finally musters the strength to rid himself of the eye and smothers the old man with his mattress. The narrator meticulously hides the body under the floorboards.

Soon after, the police arrive because a neighbor heard a scream. The narrator covers up the incident by saying the old man is out of town, and that the scream came from him. As the police are looking around, the narrator begins to hear a peculiar ticking sound; he quickly becomes mad as the sound grows fiercer in his mind. To the narrator, he believes he is hearing the sound of the old man’s heart still beating, finally leading him to confess in a moment of insanity.


Essential Questions for “The Tell-Tale Heart”

  1. What are ways that an author can build suspense?
  2. How do effective writers create mood in their short stories?

Other Lesson Plan Ideas

  1. Use storyboards to specifically show cause and effect in "The Tell-Tale Heart".
  2. Create a storyboard just depicting the rising action to demonstrate how the author built suspense.
  3. Add a presentation to any storyboard project.

Image Attributions
  • an old self portrait . . . • hortulus • License Attribution (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)
  • Edgar Allen Poe - The Raven • oddsock • License Attribution (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)
  • Old • Jeremias Pereira • License Attribution (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)


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