The Tell Tale Heart






















The Tell Tale Heart is our fourth story for the year. The following items will be our literary focus: 

  • Suspense- the sense of excitement, tension, dread or fear about what will happen next. Edgar Allen Poe used the following techniques to create suspense in his stories:​​

                a. Describing a character’s anxiety or fear.

                b. Relating vivid descriptions of dramatic sights and sounds.

                c. Repeating words, phrases, or characters’ actions. 

  • Narrator reliability- this is the trustworthiness or believabilty of the narrator. It can be evaluated by considering their actions, attitudes, and statements.

We will also review these previously introduced literary techniques:

  • Review of conflict-the struggle between two opposing forces that lies at the center of
    a plot in a story or a drama
    a. External Conflict: a conflict that exists when a character struggles
    against some outside force
          man vs. man
          man vs. nature
          man vs. society
    b. Internal Conflict: a conflict that exists within a character torn
    between opposing feelings or goals
          man vs. self
  • Review of irony-the contrast between what is and what should be
    a. Dramatic Irony: the audience knows or understands something that
    the character or characters do not.
    b. Situational Irony: the result of an action is the reverse of what is
    expected. The reader is just as surprised as the characters.
    c. Verbal Irony: the contrast is between the literal meaning of what is
    said and what is meant. Also known as sarcasm.
  • Review plot diagram-the main events of the story
    a. Exposition: contains the characters and setting
    b. Rising Action: the part of the story that builds interest
    c. Climax: the turning point
    d. Falling Action: the part of the story that brings it to a close
    e. Resolution: the end of the story
  • Review mood-the feeling of a piece of literature
  • Review foreshadowing-the use of clues by the author to prepare readers and build suspense by providing hints of what is to come.
  • Review imagery-the picture that forms in the reader’s mind as they read.


  • Informal
    • comprehension checks during reading
    • study guide for unit (Traded, graded, and discussed)
    • Vocabulary for unit/story (Traded, graded, and discussed)
  • Formal 
    • Unit test with written essay (Worth 100 points)
    • Mood project (Worth 100 points)

Below you will find the essential handouts for the unit/story. Please feel free to print and use as needed. 

Below you will find items to extend and enrich your learning. Enjoy!

If you are struggling with this story or the literary concepts, these items below may help you!

The Tell Tale Heart Trial Project

Below you will find all the items needed for the teams to prepare for the murder trial of our narrator from The Tell Tale Heart. 

Missouri Learning Standards for The Tell Tale Heart: Short story, Fiction, pg. 76 (Edgar Allen Poe) 4 pages

R.L. 8.1- Cite the textual evidence that most strongly supports an analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.

R.L. 8.2- Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including its relationship to the characters, setting, and plot; provide an objective summary of the text.

R.L. 8.3- Analyze how particular lines of dialogue or incidents in a story or drama propel the action, reveal aspects of a character, or provoke a decision.

R.L. 8.4- Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone, including analogies or allusions to other texts.

R.L. 8.6- Analyze how differences in the points of view of the characters and the audience or reader (e.g., created through the use of dramatic irony) create such effects as suspense or humor.

R.L. 8.7- Analyze the extent to which a filmed or live production of a story or drama stays faithful to or departs from the text or script, evaluating the choices made by the director or actors.

L 8.4 a-d- Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words or phrases based on grade 8 reading and content, choosing flexibly from a range of strategies.

A.           Use context (e.g., the overall meaning of a sentence or paragraph; a word’s position or function in a sentence) as a clue to the meaning of a word or phrase.

B.           Use common, grade-appropriate Greek or Latin affixes and roots as clues to the meaning of a word (e.g., precede, recede, and secede).

C.           Consult general and specialized reference materials (e.g., dictionaries, glossaries, thesauruses), both print and digital, to find the pronunciation of a word or determine or clarify its precise meaning or its part of speech.

D.           Verify the preliminary determination of the meaning of a word or phrase (e.g., by checking the inferred meaning in context or in a dictionary).

L8.5 a-c- Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.

A.           Interpret figures of speech (e.g. verbal irony, puns) in context.

B.           Use the relationship between particular words to better understand each of the words.

C.           Distinguish among the connotations (associations) of words with similar denotations (definitions) (e.g., bullheaded, willful, firm, persistent, resolute).

W8.4-Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

W8.9-Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

W8.10-Write routinely for a shorter time frames (a single setting or a day or two) for a range of discipline-specific tasks, purposes and audiences.

SL8.1-Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions expressing one’s own ideas and building on others’ ideas.

               One on one, Group, Teacher led

SL8.1-Come to discussions prepared, having read/studied material and able to reflect/probe on issues

SL8.1-Follow rules for collegial discussions, set/track specific goals/deadlines, and define individual roles.

SL8.1-Pose/respond to questions and comments with detail and relevancy.

SL8.1-Acknowledge new information expressed by others and modify own views when warranted.

SL 8.2-Analyze the purpose presented in diverse media and formats

SL 8.2-Evaluate the motive behind diverse media and formats (social, commercial, and political)

SL8.3-Delineate speaker’s argument and specific claims-which are supported by sound reasoning/sufficient evidence- which are not?

SL8.4-Present claims/findings in a focused, coherent manner with relevant evidence, valid reasoning, and well chosen details.

SL8.4-Use appropriate eye contact, adequate volume, and clear pronunciation.

SL8.5-Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and tasks, demonstrating command of formal English.