The narrator denies having any feelings of hatred or resentment for the man who had, as stated, never wronged the narrator. It has been speculated that the old man is a father figure, the narrator's landlord, or that the narrator works for the old man as a servant, and that perhaps his "vulture-eye" represents some sort of veiled secret, or power.
The ambiguity and lack of details about the two main characters stand in stark contrast to the specific plot details leading up to the murder.
Ultimately, the narrator's feelings of guilt, or a mental disturbance, result in hearing a thumping sound, which the narrator interprets as the dead man's beating heart.
The story was first published in James Russell Lowell's The Pioneer in January 1843.
The sound increases steadily, though the officers seem to pay no attention to it.
Terrified by the violent beating of the heart, and convinced that the officers are aware not only of the heartbeat but also of the narrator's guilt, the narrator breaks down and confesses, telling them to tear up the floorboards to reveal the remains of the old man's body."The Tell-Tale Heart" was first published in January 1843 in the inaugural issue of The Pioneer: A Literary and Critical Magazine, a short-lived Boston magazine edited by James Russell Lowell and Robert Carter who were listed as the "proprietors" on the front cover. The exactness with which the narrator recounts murdering the old man, as if the stealthy way in which they executed the crime were evidence of their sanity, reveals their monomania and paranoia.The magazine was published in Boston by Leland and Whiting and in Philadelphia by Drew and Scammell. The focus of the story is the perverse scheme to commit the perfect crime. The story opens with a conversation already in progress between the narrator and another person who is not identified in any way.On the eighth night, the old man awakens after the narrator's hand slips and makes a noise, interrupting the narrator's nightly ritual.But the narrator does not draw back and, after some time, decides to open the lantern.The narrator begins to feel uncomfortable and notices a ringing in their ears.As the ringing grows louder, the narrator comes to the conclusion that it is the heartbeat of the old man coming from under the floorboards.The old man with whom the narrator lives has a clouded, pale, blue "vulture-like" eye, which distresses the narrator so much that they plot to murder the old man, despite also insisting that they love the old man.The narrator insists that their careful precision in committing the murder proves that the narrator cannot possibly be insane.The narrator claims that the scream heard was the narrator's own in a nightmare and that the man is absent in the country.Confident that they will not find any evidence of the murder, the narrator brings chairs for them and they sit in the old man's room, on the very spot where the body is concealed, and suspect nothing, as the narrator has a pleasant and easy manner.