Quotes from Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart” for Teaching Literary Criticism

Teaching literary criticism requires finding evidence in the story you’re critiquing. It makes sense, therefore, that writing a “Tell-Tale Heart” literary criticism requires important quotes from “The Tell-Tale Heart.”

You can also use these quotes for this literary quotes assignment.

And since a lot of these quotations deal with Poe’s fascination with death and the supernatural, I’ll throw in this American Romanticism lesson chart that would certainly help young scholars with a “Tell-Tale Heart” literary criticism as it pertains to American Romanticism: American Romanticism Lesson Plan.


Quote: “TRUE! — nervous — very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad? The disease had sharpened my senses — not destroyed — not dulled them.”

Analysis: A “Tell-Tale Heart” literary criticism must begin with the narrator, who claims he’s not mad. His actions and words, however, do not support this claim, as he contends he hears voices from hell and from inside the walls.

Oh, he also kills an old man, chops him up, and hides him under the floor. The narrator is obviously unreliable and his confession seems more an attempt to convince us he’s clever than anything else. This supports one of the primary themes in “The Tell-Tale Heart”: Different Versions of Reality.


Eye, View, Hypnotic, Hypnosis, StatueQuote: “For it was not the old man who vexed me, but his Evil Eye.”

Analysis: The eye is symbolic of the all-piercing eye of justice or as the old cliché states, “a window to the soul.” The American Romantics were interested in the study of mesmerism and hypnotic trances, which often made use of a eyes and watches and served as a method for learning the secrets of one’s soul.


Tell Tale Heart Lesson Plans