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Exploring  Character Moral Dilemmas in "The Tell-Tale Heart"

Exploring Character Moral Dilemmas in "The Tell-Tale Heart"

Author: Aaron Marvel

By the end of this tutorial, students will be able to effectively identify the moral dilemma of the character in "The Tell-Tale Heart".  The student will demonstrate this skill by answering correctly a few questions.

"The Tell-Tale Heart" has intrigued readers for over a century.  The protagonist, who is also the narrator, intensely hates the eye of the man with whom he lives, to the point that he will do anything to rid himself of it.  As you read notice the tone of the passage.  Because the narrator is a character in the story, the narration hints to the reader the speakers attitude and beliefs. 

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Moral Dilemma Example in Film

Webster's dictionary defines a moral dilemma as "a situation requiring a choice between equally undesirable alternatives." The film "Casablanca" is set in the midst of World War II. Once Germans began invading Europe many Europeans began fleeing their countries. Their first stop often was the city of Casablanca. Rick (the man drinking at the bar in the film clip) runs a popular nightspot in Casablanca. One night, to his surprise, the girl he once loved, Ilsa, steps into his bar. While watching the film-clip decide what moral dilemma Rick may be contemplating.

Reading Assignment: "The Tell-Tale Heart" by Edgar Allen Poe

Characters in films are not the only ones that have moral dilemmas.  Characters in written stories do as well.  Select the link below to read "The Tell-Tale Heart" by Edgar Allen Poe. 

In this story two men share a house, but not necessarily in peace.  The eye of one of the men deeply disturbs the other, to the point that the protagonist (the main character) decides that he must do something about it. 

While reading "The Tell-Tale Heart" decide what you think the character's moral dilemma might be.

Hint:  Once you click on the link, you may need to scroll down the page to find "The Tell-Tale Heart".

Click here to access the "Tell-Tale Heart".

Source: From the Gutenberg Project

Question and Answer

Answer the following questions to the best of your ability.  Write them on a sheet of paper and bring them to class.

1.  Do you think the narrator is a "madman"?  Why or why not?

2.  Do you think the police suspected the narrator as a murderer?  Why or why not?

3.  What intrigued you about this story?

4.  What moral dilemma did this character face?

Discussion Question

Below, in the "Question and Answer" section, respond to the following prompt.  Also respond to one of your classmates' answers.

Why did the narrator kill the old man?