Symbolism in the Tell Tale Heart

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English Comp 102

April 27, 2012
Symbolism
The Tell-Heart by Edgar Allan Poe is a piece of American literature that is world renowned. This short story is about a man, the narrator, which slowly becomes physiologically insane while tending and taking care of an older man. The narrator begins to become mad and eventually plots and murders the old man in his bedroom. From beginning to end of this murderous short story there are implications and symbolic meanings of objects. Symbolism can be found in this story within the ticking clock, the “evil eye”, and the dreadful heartbeat, that gets louder and louder. Reading and analyzing this short story, you will surely find and realize the symbolism and meaning behind Poe’s writing.

The first, but not only, sign of symbolism in Poe’s short story is the ticking clock. The clock is not only a visually symbolic element, it is also a metaphorical representation. The narrator mentions several times of the ticking clock he hears while waiting and watching the old man. The ticking time clock is very symbolic in this story. The watch symbolizes not only the time and life the old man has left to live, but it also represents the countdown and leading up of the narrator’s murderous actions and crime. Overall the ticking of the watch is symbolic of time and the wait the narrator, as well as the old man, must endure before the inevitable end.

One of the most descriptive and evident pieces of symbolism in Poe’s short story in the eye of the old man. The “evil eye” is the center and source of the narrator’s madness and peril. The narrator says the eye makes his blood “run cold” and he also refers to the eye as a “damned spot” and “vulture eye”. The eye is undoubtedly the motive behind the mad narrators murder and crimes. This eye is not merely a disgusting feature of the old man, or just a gross defect. The eye is a symbol and representation of evil within the story and narrator. It brings out the hatred and...
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