A Show of Heart in Edgar Allan Poe's, "The Tell-Tale Heart"

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A Show of Heart in Edgar Allan Poe's, "The Tell-Tale Heart"

By | November 2007
Page 1 of 2
A person's heart is one of the most vital organs in his or her body. Without a heart, life would not be possible for any living creature. Due to it's significance, the heart is often incorporated by authors into their works of fiction as a powerful symbol. For example, in Edgar Allan poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart", Poe uses the heart of one of his charactersand its beating to symbolically represent an array of concepts, such as the narrator's fear, conscience subconsciously speaking out to him, and as a true sign of insanity.

First of all, the "low, dull, quick sound" that the narrator classifies as "the beating of the old man's heart" symbolizes the fear that is found within the narrator. This fear is noted when the narrator says, "And now a new anxiety seized me-the sound would be heard by a neighbor!" The fear caused by the beating of the heart actsan internal motivator for the narrator to finally follow through with his plan to kill the old man and to confess to the murder when the police officers come to investigate the old man's home after the crime has taken place. If the narrator had not heard the beating of the heart, he may not have acted so immediately, thus allowing the old man to avoid death for the eigth consecutive night and saving himself from the confrontation with the police officers. The thought of the old man's heart causes the narrator to bacome overcome with fear.

Secondly, the sound that the narrator hears could be the beating of his own heart instead of the old man's, representing his own conscience trying to subconsciously speak out to the narrator. In life, when a person is in the process of commiting a bad deed, most of the time his or her conscience will make him or her become nervous and filled with anxiety. The narrator exemplifies this idea by stating, "I have told you that I am nervous: so I am," during the moment precisely before the murder. By becoming nervous, the narrator proves that he possesses an internal aspect that is...