Historical Context in The Tell-Tale Heart
First published in 1843 in The Pioneer, “The Tell-Tale Heart” is characteristic of the macabre themes for which Poe became famous. Poe was a part of the American Gothic literary movement that became popular in the 19th century at the same time Romanticism was in vogue. Unlike Romanticism, which focused on the power of the individual and the sublime truth of nature, American Gothic literature explored the human experience through irrationality, madness, guild, and supernatural horror. It often features characters suffering from melancholy, insanity, and obsession, blurring the line between fantasy and reality. Graphic violence and disturbing scenarios challenge the Romantic belief in reason. The genre arose out of the darker experience of 19th century American culture and society; it is largely viewed as a reaction to the nightmare of poverty, tension over the history of slavery and racial politics, and the daunting wilderness of the American frontier.