Edgar Allan Poe uses symbols, figures of speech, and the setting of the story in “The Tell Tale Heart” to reveal hidden morals and explain how the nameless, genderless, and ageless narrator felt while plotting and carrying out the murder of an old man. The narrator was driven crazy because of an old man’s vulture eye. He explained, “I made up my mind to take the life of the old man, and thus rid myself of the eye forever” (Poe). Throughout the entire story, the paranoid narrator is fixated on defending his sanity to the reader by explaining how carefully he planned out the old man’s murder. After carefully observing the old man in his sleep for seven nights, he strikes on the eighth night with precision and the old man is dead. He buries him under the floorboards in the bedroom where he was murdered. When the police come after being told of a shriek coming from the home, the narrator becomes paranoid that the old man’s heart is beating loudly under the floorboards. Not being able to take the guilt any longer, he rips up the boards to reveal the body and admits to the old man’s murder.
The old man’s eye is most obvious symbol in Poe’s short fiction, “The Tell Tale Heart.” The narrator explains that the old man’s eye is like the eye of a vulture; dull and hazy. The eye could have been a medical condition but more than likely was a symbol of the man’s outlook on life. The wording of the story seems to be filtered through the filmy eye which causes confusion and frustration with the text. Although the eye seems dull and lifeless it has strange effects on the narrator. He feels that whenever the eye glances at him that his blood runs cold and a chill slowly creeps into his bones. The narrator explains, “He had the eye of a vulture --a pale blue eye, with a film over it” (Poe). Although a vulture preys on the dead and the sick, the narrator was very upset and afraid of the vulture eye. This could represent how he feels about himself... [continues]
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