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Tasks: The Tell-Tale Heart


True or False?

Below, you will find ten statements about the short story "The Tell-Tale Heart". Some are true and some are false. Click on the option you believe is correct.


Work with a partner and answer the questions below. Have you both understood the story in the same way?

  1. What do we know about the narrator of this short story?
  2. The narrator says that he is not mad. Do you agree with his assessment? Give reasons for your answer.
  3. Why did the narrator decide to kill the old man?
  4. Did the old man suspect that something was about to happen? Explain.
  5. How did the narrator try to conceal the murder?
  6. Why did the police officers come to the house?
  7. Why did the narrator admit to the crime?


Answer in writing.

  1. Describe how the short story starts and suggest reasons why the author has chosen to start the story this way.

  2. Is direct or indirect characterisation used to create the main character? Suggest reasons why the author has chosen this form of characterisation.

  3. What do you notice about the way language is used? Here you can point out anything that strikes you about the language, e.g. vocabulary, sentence structure, use of imagery...

  4. An atmosphere of suspense and fear is present in this short story; how has the author created this atmosphere? Explain using examples.

  5. Many short stories have a surprise twist at the end. Describe the ending of this short story. Does it surprise you?

  6. What makes this short story an example of Gothic fiction? Explain using examples from the text.


Choose one of the tasks. Research and make a ten minute presentation. Discuss with your teacher what form your presentation should have (lecture, film, audio-recording, group presentation...)

  1. Give an introduction to some of Edgar Allan Poe's poems. Discuss whether the poems can be regarded as examples of Gothic fiction by analysing them and presenting examples. You will find the poems "Annabel Lee" and "The Raven" here at NDLA. You will find more of Poe's poetry by doing an internet search.

  2. Edgar Allan Poe's writing has influenced literature and popular culture to this day. Present examples of popular culture or literature influenced by Poe, and discuss whether it was Poe's life or his writing that influenced the work.

  3. Edgar Allan Poe is by many considered the father of the detective fiction genre, because of his short story "The Murders in the Rue Morgue. Read the short story and find out more about the genre.

    Describe what characterises the genre detective fiction. Explain what makes this short story an example of the genre, using examples from the text. Discuss whether Poe was actually the first to write detective fiction.

    You can find the short story by following this link, or by making an internet search. Link to the webpage American English: 'The Murders in the Rue Morgue' by Edgar Allan Poe.


Pick one of the tasks and write a longer text. Remember to include references and a source list.

  1. Write an analysis of the short story 'The Tell-Tale Heart'. Pay special attention to what it is that makes this a good example of Gothic fiction.

  2. Edgar Allan Poe's favourite themes were death, regret, and lost love. Compare two of his works and explain how these themes are evident in each work.

  3. What characterised the Romantic period? Was Poe's work influenced by the ideas and ideals of the period? Discuss. Make sure you reference at least one of Poe's works.

  4. Find out more about Edgar Allan Poe's life, and discuss why many people are just as fascinated by his life as by his writing.


  1. Work in groups.
    Make a short play based on a work by Edgar Allan Poe. Perform the play.

  2. Work in pairs or alone.
    Make an illustration of a work by Edgar Allan Poe. It can be a drawing, painting, photograph, sculpture, digital art, or something else.

    Give a short presentation of your work, and explain what it is meant to illustrate and why you have chosen to illustrate it this way.

  3. Work in pairs or alone.
    Write a Gothic short story. Make sure you include features that are typical of the genre.

Sist oppdatert 01.09.2021
Skrevet av Tone Hesjedal og Elise M. Huseby


Short Stories