The Tell-Tale Heart

September 20th, 2009 by John Wolfe

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.

Related Posts

Poe: Last Days of the Raven
Edgar Allan Poe Speaks

3 Responses to “The Tell-Tale Heart”

  1. autumnforest Says:

    Thanks so much for the link. I can’t wait to hear it. I felt the same way about that story. Being psychic and empathic can be very overwhelming for folks, but one thing that’s possible is to not fight against it. I used to counsel folks who were scared of needles and one thing I told them was to stop bearing down against the needle as if it’s an invader and instead inhaler and breathe in all the healthy things it’s putting into your body (medicines/blood transfusions/IV fluids). If you don’t bear down against sensitivity and instead see it as currents in an ocean that flood over and then recede again, you’re part of a dynamic instead of being invaded by intruders. Everything changes and nothing stays the same so what you sense this moment will be gone like a will-o’the-wisp as the day goes on. Everything in life balances pain/relief, joy/grief. so you’re just feeling the spectrum. Isn’t if funny how us empaths love horror? I had someone tell me once it was counterphobic, a way to master something without risk. I like to think of it as simply building up tolerance to intense sensations and enjoying the full spectrum.

  2. John Wolfe Says:

    Thanks, that’s really good advice. You’re absolutely right, it’s along the lines of whatever we resist persists. I have learned to embrace it a little bit more over the years. Even though it seems to have become even more pronounced and intense since childhood; I believe I’m better equipped now than I ever was as a kid to handle it.

    It is very interesting how we enjoy the darker scarier things. I have had very spiritual friends and acquaintances who learn about my love of Halloween and they’re just not sure how to take it — especially when they know how much I’m into exploring my spirituality. For me, I’ve never been a huge fan of horror in film (other than the Freddy films and CreepShow as a child), but I have loved me some horror novels and short stories!

    I agree about enjoying the full spectrum. Plus, I think it’s all based on human labels and perceptions. For instance, I can find great joy and “light” in the darkest of Halloween atmospheres; whereas, others see nothing but the darkness of it all.

  3. Goldie Says:

    I just wanted to say that your comment as well as autumnforest’s comment were excellent read just now. The cool thing about the internet is that, over time, we do eventually met like minded people along the way who understand somewhat of who we are and why we are, where others just shut us down or call us names acting as if WE’RE the crazy ones for thinking differently than the rest. You both are spot on the mark and, as always, I find I can relate highly to what you shared back to her in this comment. WE are out there…………just few and far between ;-)