Symbolism in Edgar Allen Poe's The Tell-Tale Heart Essay

Symbolism in Edgar Allen Poe's The Tell-Tale Heart Essay

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Symbolism in Edgar Allen Poe's The Tell-Tale Heart
In Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart", the narrator claims that he is not "mad" but his behavior tells a different story. He is truly determined to destroy another male human being, not because of jealousy or animosity but because "one of his eyes resembled that of a vulture- a pale blue eye, with a film over it" (1206). The narrator sees the man with this ghastly eye as a threat to his well being, but it is he who is a menace to his own being. He kills the man with pride only to concede to his horrific crime due to his guilt-ridden heart. His heart is empty, except for the evil that exists inside which ultimately destroys him.
The narrator insists that it his duty to kill the man with the evil eye because he can no longer bear to observe the horrifying sight. He has become obsessed with the eye and when he conceives his ultimate plan he says "it haunted me day and night" (1206). Just as he describes the man's eye as similar to that of a vulture, the narrator suddenly bares the resemblance of a true vulture. He is now a predator, hunting his prey until it is finally caught. This continues for a week but he is not able to accomplish his goal. Not until the eighth night is the narrator finally capable of capturing his victim, and the evil eye that is torturing his insides.
The man is quietly asleep when the narrator walks in. He thinks to himself "I knew what the old man felt, and pitied him, although I chuckled at heart" (1207). At this time, the narrator feels no remorse about what he is going to do. He truly encompasses all evil and has no heart. The beating of the old man's heart increases faster and faster. This foreshadows what later occurs when the narrator thin...


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... "‘villains!" dissemble no more! I admit the deed!-tear up the planks!-here, here!- it is the beating of his hideous heart!"' (1209). It is not the beating of the dead man's heart that is hideous; it is the narrator whose heart is dreadful and full of evil.
The narrator becomes the man with the evil eye by becoming a torturous human being. One who lacks the manner to listen to his heart but instead "heard all things in the heaven and in the earth. I heard many things in hell" (1206). The things he hears in hell may have contributed to all the hatred he feels toward the man with the evil eye. The narrator is able to hear what he thinks is the old man's heart beating because he has become entranced with guilt. He feels remorse; not from his own heart, but from the heart that he has killed. Therefore the true evil eye still exists, without a heart, without a soul.

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