15 February 2013
Themes of “The Tell-Tale Heart”
Edgar Allen Poe explores the similarity of love and hate in many stories, especially “The Tell Tale Heart.” In “The Tell-Tale Heart,” the narrator confesses a love for an old man whom he then violently murders and dismembers the body and hides the pieces below the floorboards in the bedroom. When the police arrive, the narrator appears normal and unshaken by the murder. Later on, the man gives in to the guilt and cannot withstand knowing anymore and not telling anyone. The narrator reveals his madness by attempting to separate the person of the old man, whom he loves, from the old man’s supposedly evil eye, which triggers the narrator’s hatred. This delusional separation enables the narrator to remain unaware of the paradox of claiming to have loved his victim.
Even though the narrator is quite pleased with his clean and evidence-free murder, the sin subconsciously works against him and leads him to finally admit to the crime. The narrator had gruesomely murdered and is described by the narrator as “First of all I dismembered the corpse. I cut off the head and the arms and the legs.” (Poe) The officers had not suspected him or wheedled him into confessing. Instead, by his own will, confessed to the crime. The mounting guilt consumes the narrator, eating him from the inside out, and his heightened senses blur the lines between real and imagined sound. This guilt is depicted as an annoyingly cloying sound that could not be ignored and manifested themselves as, according to the narrator, a steady, “low, dull, quick sound”. (Poe).
In “The Tell-Tale Heart,” the narrator fixates on the idea that an old man is looking at him with the Evil Eye and transmitting a curse on him. The narrator states, “I made up my mind to take the life of the old man, and thus rid myself of the eye forever.” (Poe). At the same time that the narrator obsesses over the eye, he wants to...