The Tell-Tale Heart Discussion Questions

Instructor: Tammy Galloway

Tammy teaches business courses at the post-secondary and secondary level and has a master's of business administration in finance.

Teachers, utilize this lesson to confirm students read the short story. Challenge their critical thinking skills by assigning It's All About What You Think questions. This lesson may be used in a traditional classroom or online environment.

The Narrator

  • What bothers the narrator about the man who lives in his house? Be specific. When the narrator looks at the man, what supposedly happens to the narrator's blood?
  • What does the narrator envision doing to this man?
  • Does the narrator hate this man or feel any contempt for him? Explain. Use quotes from the story to support your answer.
  • The narrator enters the man's room for seven nights but decides not to act upon his thoughts? Why? What happens on the eighth night? What specifically changed from the seventh night to the eighth night to cause the narrator to act?
  • After the narrator's horrifying act, what does the narrator do with the old man?
  • What prompts the police investigation? Does the narrator comply with the police's requests? Why or why not?
  • Do you believe the narrator's actions would have bothered him if he had not continued to hear a distinct sound? What sound resonated over and over again?
  • The narrator tells the story in first person. Can we trust his account of the details? Why or why not?
  • The narrator claims he is sane. Do you agree? Why or why not? Use at least three reasons to support your answer.
  • What do you believe is the narrator's real motive for his actions?
  • Use five descriptive words to describe the narrator.
  • What happened to the narrator after the police found the old man? Explain.
  • Do you believe the narrator felt guilty? Why or why not?

The Old Man

  • Was the old man poor or rich? Use specific quotes to support your answer.
  • Why do you believe the old man screams in horror before the offense? Do you think he knows what's about to happen?
  • Do you think the old man knows the narrator is insane? Why or why not? Use quotes to support your answer.
  • What do you think would have happened to the old man if he had never woken up when the narrator entered his room?

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