In Edgar Allen Poe's Short story "The Tell-Tale Heart" much is made of the "evil eye" of the old man. Immediately we are introduced to a man who would never hurt a fly. The narrator of the story even goes so far as to say he loved the old man. This old man is portrayed as one who would do anything for you. However, the caretaker of the old man has one small problem with the old man. The eye that darn evil eye! What could cause a person to become enraged by an eye and only one eye?
Martha Womack stated that the violence comes from an irrational fear represented through the old man's eye. "The belief in the evil eye dates back to ancient times, and even today, is fairly common in India and the countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea. References are made to it in Jewish, Islamic, Buddhist and Hindu faiths" (Poedecoder). Womack goes on to compare the "evil eye" to a Medusa type object that is being able to harm a person just by looking at them. This comparison goes to support my theory of a God like entity within the eye of the old man.
Many people have attempted to rationalize the meaning of the single "evil eye." Some people have attempted to relate the old man to a Cyclops. However, I see this eye from a Christian point of view. The eye is not "evil" in the sense of the devil instead in my humble opinion it is the eye of God. I agreed with B. D. Tucker. The first thing I attempted to do, was relate the Cyclops theory however, this did not sit well with me. The reason the Cyclops theory does not fit the story is that in the second paragraph Poe writes, "One of his eyes resembled that of a vulture" (Kennedy 34). The mythical Greek creature had only o...
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...deas for what the story could represent. After studying the "Evil eye" in this story, I have no doubt that the eye is that of God.
Benfey, Christopher. "Poe and the Unreadable: 'The Black Cat' and 'The Tell-Tale Heart " New Essays on poe's Major Tales viii (1993): 27-43
Canario, John W. "The Dream in 'The Tell-Tale Heart." English-Language-Notes 7 (1970): 194-97
Great Seal. Homepage 1 March 2001. Great Seal. 5 July 2001
Kennedy, X. J., 7th ed. An Introduction to Fiction. NewYork: Longman, 1998: 33-7
The Poe Decoder. Home page. 12 April 2001. The Poe Decoder. 5 July 2001 www.poedecoder.com>
Robinson, E. Arthur. "Thoreau and the deathwatch in Poe's 'The Tell-Tale Heart." Poe-Studies 4:1 (1971): 14-6
Tucker, B. D. "The Tell-Tale Heart and the Evil Eye." Southern-Literary-Journal 13:2 (1981 Spring): 92-8
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