I hadn’t read this story since middle school so I decided it’d be great to revisit it. The Boston Public Library had a copy but it was in the Junior/Young Adult section which was closed after 5pm. I went there after work so I was S.O.L. Instead, I found about a dozen free pdfs of the story via Google.
The story is told by a man who lives with an elderly man. He gets along fine with this older man except for his vulture eye which is always looking at him. Finally the eye starts to drive him mad and he plots to kill the old man to rid himself of having to see the vulture eye day in and day out. He spends the entire story trying to convince you (the reader) that he’s not crazy by going through how methodically he planned it. “How then am I mad? Hearken! And observe how healthily, how calmly I can tell you the whole story.” The week before the murder, each night at midnight he would open the door to the old man’s room, peak his head in and shine the light of a lamp on his eye. This whole process would take over an hour so that the old man wouldn’t take notice. “Now this is the point you fancy me mad. Madmen know nothing. But you should have seen me. You should have seen how wisely I proceeded, with what caution, with what foresight…” Finally he kills the old man but not after he lets out a shriek which triggers the neighbors to call the police. The main character has time to chop up the body and hide its pieces in the floor boards. “If still you think me mad, you will think so no longer when I describe the wise precautions I took for the concealment of the body.” Again, trying to convince you he wasn’t crazy. The police came and everything is fine until the man starts hearing the beating of the old man’s heart. The beating heart grows louder and louder until finally it drives him crazy and he confesses to killing the old man.
This was one of my favorite short stories in school and now I remember why. It’s 100% engaging from start to finish. I love reading Edgar Allan Poe because he’s poetic in his writing, but not so overly poetic and descriptive that you lose sight of what he’s actually talking about. It’s very digestible but still written in a late 1800’s style. Also, Poe was born in Boston so that’s also a plus. I used to have a massive, bible-sized book that included all of Poe’s writings but I donated it to the Library during my 100 Item Challenge Month. Very ironic that when I wanted to check it out of the Library I couldn’t because the young adult room was closed, bummer.
About the Author Edgar Allan Poe:
Edgar Allan Poe (born Edgar Poe, January 19, 1809 – October 7, 1849) was an American author, poet, editor and literary critic, considered part of the American Romantic Movement. Best known for his tales of mystery and the macabre, Poe was one of the earliest American practitioners of the short story and is considered the inventor of the detective fiction genre. He is further credited with contributing to the emerging genre of science fiction. He was the first well-known American writer to try to earn a living through writing alone, resulting in a financially difficult life and career. He was born as Edgar Poe in Boston, Massachusetts; he was orphaned young when his mother died shortly after his father abandoned the family. Poe was taken in by John and Frances Allan, of Richmond, Virginia, but they never formally adopted him… (Courtesy of Amazon.com)
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