EN 210: Colonial Literature
Meaning behind the Evil Eye in The Tell-Tale Heart
“The Tell-Tale Heart”, written by Edgar Allan Poe, was initially published in 1843. The story is told by the narrator in 1st person to someone of importance but is never actually known whom he is telling the story to. The narrator explains, in extreme detail, how and why he killed the old man. The purpose is clearly stated, in the second paragraph, but the old man, his eye, and the old man’s death actually are symbols. After careful analysis we will discover that the old man is not real, but an image in the narrator’s mind, that the eye symbolizes his guilty conscience.
There are several reasons to why the old man is not real but an imaginary figure of the narrator. First, the story is told in great detail with the exception of who the old man actually is. This is very interesting, Edgar Allan Poe throughout the story wrote in delicate details on everything from how he was not mad to the exact steps of how he killed the old man. I do not understand why he would not explain who the old man was. We are never told where the old man lives. We can assume they live together but that is only through the assumption at the end of the story when the police arrive and the narrator opens the door. The narrator never informs us of what the old man’s profession was. He also fails to give us information on how the two of them were related to each other. The lack of details on the old man has raised some speculations to whether he is actually real or an imaginary figure. The one detail we are told about the old man is that “He had the eye of a vulture” (Poe, 1589). The narrator only described the old man by his eye. It astonishes me that he choice to describe the old man by just a single physical trait, an eye. The eye must stand for something as the narrator continues to talk about his eye throughout the story. Calling it the “evil eye” (Poe, 1590), describing it as “all a dull blue, with a...
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