Ever since I was very young, I’ve had a strange propensity for picking up on and absorbing emotions. The world has always presented itself to me as waves of intense feelings and sensations — even in the most minute of situations or experiences. At times, this has become so pronounced it’s actually debilitating. Some people call this trait being empathic. It’s for this reason that I believe The Tell-Tale Heart captured my interest (and scared the hell out of me) more than any other of Poe’s works.
The narrator of the story (the murderer), repeatedly talks about his “affliction” which causes “over-acuteness of the senses” and, of course, it’s this very affliction that proves to be the eventual undoing of his sinister plot. Not only does The Tell-Tale Heart deal with empath-like tendencies which have gone completely mad, but it’s also loaded with emotional sequences.
I think I read the story twice as a child and that was enough. I was finished with Poe for some time after that. The impact (due to my sensitivity) was far too great for me to ever touch his work again until a few years later.
If you haven’t read the story or if you’re up for revisiting it, I came across an incredible reading of the tale by You Tube user SpokenVerse. His voice is highly appropriate for this selection — very John Houseman-like. This is an excellent version to listen while relaxing in the dark.
SpokenVerse is reading the full version of the story. If you’re looking for a condensed version, I highly recommend the 1953 Tell-Tale Heart cartoon available on You Tube. I would have embedded it as well, but the film was not uploaded by the original owner.
Illustration by Harry Clarke, 1919.