The Psychological Disorder of Poe's The Tell-Tale Heart

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In his essay "On the Nature of Man", Lavater expounds his opinion that " an intimate correlation exist[s] between man's spiritual internal essence and his physical constituent parts" (Lavater 98). Human beings experience life trusting that eyes are lenses to the outer world without comprehending the very fact that eyes mirror the interior more than the exterior part. Many literary works discuss this physical-psychological bond, but none is as perfect and profound as Edgar Allan Poe. In his story "The Tell-Tale Heart", Poe accumulates perversity, madness, paranoia and self-destruction to play on the "Eye" pun. The narrator uses this pun to embody all the symptoms of psychological disturbance both in the projection of his evilness and the discord of his physiognomy.

To begin with, the narrator of "The Tell-Tale Heart" projects his wickedness onto the old man which raises the primary question: Is it the "Evil Eye" of the old man which vexes the narrator or his/her own "I" that he /she fears to encounter? The narrator declares at the very beginning that "the eye of a vulture_ a pale blue eye, with a film over it" (Poe 317) is the main reason why he/she murders the old man. In that eye which "chille[s] the very marrow in [his/her] bones" ( Poe 319) resides the superb power of evilness which is actually hidden in the narrator's veiled psyche. Robinson In his article "Poe's 'The Tell Tale Heart'" re-conceptualizes the link between the "eye" and the "I" saying that "it's the narrator's evil 'I' that makes him see the evil eye in the old man"(377). However, throughout the whole story, there is no indication in utterances or actions for the vice of the old man. In contrast, the dissimulation and hypocrisy of the narra...

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