The Tell-Tale Heart

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Corresponding text is on page 786 of your textbook.
What kind of movie do you think the people in this photograph are
viewing, given their expressions and body language?
They are probably viewing a scary movie.
How does 3-D viewing affect your response to a movie? Does it
intensify the action for you?
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• To enjoy reading suspenseful stories
• To analyze the literary elements in plays, short
stories, and poems (irony, the three types, and
mood)
• To apply strategies for reading suspenseful tales
and poems
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Starting Point: Ghoulish Humor
Humor and horror may seem to be unlikely partners. However, many scary stories
heighten the suspense by putting funny surprises together with frightful
moments. Other stories simply poke fun at traditional horror plots.
•
Create a comic strip that either turns a scary situation into a funny one or
pokes fun at a popular scary story you’ve read recently.
Starting Point: Heart-Stopping Moments
Every now and then, our imaginations get the best of us. In the dark, the
lamp’s shadow on the wall becomes a lunging monster. The rustle of the trees
becomes a haunting voice.
•
Remember a time when your imagination went into overdrive and scared you
silly. Write two or three paragraphs describing the scene that set off your
imagination.
• What keeps your eyes glued to the pages of a mystery, a horror story, or a
spooky tale?
• Writers of these stories are experts in the art of suspense–the building
excitement and anxiety that pull readers into a story and keep them hooked
until the end.
• To create this tension and arouse curiosity, writers give special attention to
the elements described on the following slides.
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Corresponding text for this feature can be found on page 832 of your textbook.
ELEMENT
MODEL “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”
Characters
The main characters are
described clearly, so that
readers learn about their
appearance, actions, and
thoughts–including their
fears. For example, in “The
Legend of Sleepy Hollow,”
readers see that Ichabod
Crane’s imagination often
gets the better of him,
especially after a night spent
telling ghost stories.
What fearful shapes and
shadows beset his path amidst
the dim and ghastly glare of a
snowy night! And how often
was he thrown into complete
dismay by some rushing blast,
howling among the trees, in the
idea that it was the Galloping
Hessian on one of his nightly
scourings!
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Corresponding text for this feature can be found on page 832 of your textbook.
ELEMENT
MODEL “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”
Setting
Every detail about the
setting contributes to the
feeling of tension and,
sometimes, of foreboding.
… a small brook crossed the
road, and ran into a marshy and
thickly wooded glen, known by
the name of Wiley’s Swamp. A
few rough logs, laid side by
side, served for a bridge over
this stream …. This has … been
considered a haunted stream,
and fearful are the feelings of
the schoolboy who has to pass
it alone after dark.
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Corresponding text for this feature can be found on page 832 of your textbook.
ELEMENT
MODEL “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”
Conflict and Climax
The conflicts, or problems,
that the characters experience
lead to the moment of most
intense excitement, called the
climax.
Just then [Ichabod] saw the
goblin rising in his stirrups, and
in the very act of hurling his
head at him.
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Corresponding text for this feature can be found on page 832 of your textbook.
Suspense stories can keep you reading for hours if
you are an active reader. You’ll get more out of the
story if you talk to yourself as it unfolds. Use the
following strategies to help you enjoy the suspense
stories in this theme.
Use the tips on the following slides to help you
actively read a suspense story.
Corresponding text for this feature can be found
on page 833 of your textbook.
Question
As the plot twists and turns, you may feel like racing ahead in the
story to find out what happens. However, be sure you understand
details. Ask yourself …
What does this conversation tell about the characters?
Why is this background information in the story?
What will it tell me that I need to know?
Corresponding text for this feature can be found on page 833 of your textbook.
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Predict
Look for clues that suggest what might happen next, and then
make predictions about the story’s outcome. Later, as you
continue to read, verify or adjust your predictions. Ask yourself
…
What are the possible outcomes?
Which one is most likely?
Is this character clever enough or brave enough to find a
way out of this dilemma?
Corresponding text for this feature can be found on page 833 of your textbook.
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Respond
Let yourself be carried away by the tension and excitement.
Ask yourself …
What would I do in this situation?
What advice would I give these characters?
Corresponding text for this feature can be found on page 833 of your textbook.
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• To read and analyze a short story that
explores how terror and fear affect an
unbalanced person 
• To identify mood & in a short story 
• To write an analysis of a scary scene
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Edgar Allan Poe was
born in 1809 and died
in 1849. “The Tell-Tale
Heart” was first
published in Pioneer
magazine in January
1843.
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more about Edgar Allan Poe.
BACKGROUND
Did You Know?
Poe spent most of his life writing poetry, beginning as a
teenager and sacrificing material comforts for twenty
years so that he could concentrate on his art. The
success finally found with his poem “The Raven” didn’t
improve his financial status. The poem was reprinted
and parodied everywhere, and Poe was invited to tour
the country lecturing and reading his work. However, he
was paid less than $15 for the poem, and lecturing paid
barely enough to support him. Three years after “The
Raven” came out, Poe still could not afford to keep his
house warm during his wife’s final battle with
tuberculosis.
Active Reading
Adjust Speed (page 537 1st paragraph)
What is unusual about the punctuation? What does it suggest
about the narrator?
The many dashes and exclamation points suggest the
narrator’s frantic state of mind/a sense of unease.
How does this affect your reading of the story?
The punctuation slows the reader down, which was the
author’s intent.
Navigation Toolbar
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Critical Thinking
Evaluating
From what point of view is the story told?
The story is told from the first-person point of view.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of telling
this kind of a story in first person?
Advantage: The readers “get into” the mind of the
character, and the first-person voice helps them to do
this. Disadvantage: Readers have only the narrator’s
point of view from which to evaluate the events.
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Literary Elements
Mood
How does the narrator use the sense of hearing to intensify the
sense of terror and anxiety? (page 539)
The narrator describes a quiet so intense that he can hear
bugs moving in the wall. The old man’s terrified groan
echoes dreadfully in the silence.
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I Active Reading (cont.)
Predict
What does the term tell-tale mean?
Tell-tale means “revealing.”
What does that word suggest about the end of the story?
Perhaps the loudly beating heart will reveal the old man’s
murderer.
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N Critical Thinking
Infer
How does the narrator’s mental state change once he thinks he
hears something?
He becomes more and more agitated, talking quickly and
loudly.
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O Author’s Craft
Italics
Review the italicized sentence in the long paragraph on page 841: “It
was a low, dull, quick sound–much such a sound as a watch makes
when enveloped in cotton.”
Why do you think the author italicizes this sentence?
Poe may be suggesting another explanation for the sound the
murderer hears. The narrator may be hearing a watch, which
his guilty conscience imagines is the murdered man’s heart.
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P Active Reading
Respond
Imagine the scene in the final paragraph as enacted in a movie.
How might an audience respond? How does it make you feel?
EVALUATE AND CONNECT
Who has the “tell-tale” heart in this story–the narrator or
the old man? Defend your choice.
The tell-tale heart can refer to the old man’s heart if the
story is interpreted as describing a supernatural event. It can
also be the narrator’s heart. He may finally have been so
overcome with guilt and fear that his own heart impelled
him to give himself away.
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LITERARY ELEMENTS
•
The mood of a story is the emotional effect it has on a reader.

•
The overall mood of “The Tell-Tale Heart” is one of anxiety and
fear. 
One way Poe achieves this mood is through the rhythm of his
language, which mimics a fast, irregular heartbeat. 
Poe’s use of exclamation marks and dashes conveys agitation, as
does the narrator’s repetition of the word “nervous.”
•
•
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Suspenseful Scene
Which scene from this story did you find most gripping or scary?
Why did it affect you this way? Write a paragraph or two explaining
your answer. Include details and examples from the story to support
your answer.
description of pounding
heart
anxiety
description of evil eye
fear
use of exclamation points
and dashes to portray
abrupt changes in thought
agitation, anxiety
portrayal of narrator during
police visit
anxiety

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