Symbols of the Tell Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe

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The novel is written from the narrator’s perspective whom some might say lived in the castle or was just a servant to the grandmaster. Poe definitely delivers a great representative to this time literary period in which he captures the subterranean secret, the gruesome crime, the gothic space, and even the balance between the supernatural and psychological aspect of a gothic novel. But what is it that is so empowering about the heart and the eye? How do these symbols weigh-in in the story?

“The window into a man’s soul” some may say when they refer to an eye, and so it is in the novel The Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allan Poe from (1843). The eye is placed on an old man which the reader does not get a good description of, so that leaves room for a lot of different theories with the relation between the old man and the narrator (from now on referred to as “he”).

The old man could have potentially been a servant or a relative to “him”, unfortunately, this can’t be directly identified. As a “big brother”, the eye gets a power-role in the story simply when “he” again and again feels watched by the eye and gets very fixated to it. The symbolism of the eye is simply that someone always sees you even if there is no eye watching and with that being said it’s an inlet to “his” phycological state which is seeming unstable, even mad. He would be diagnosed as a mad man because of all of the voices in his head which he responds to when he is being interrogated by the two officers who raise suspicion by “his” enthusiastic manner which leads them to think something wasn’t right. They could not have gotten a better clue than his acting and finally “his” monologue when he confesses to “his” crime.

In the world of literature, a man’s heart is what makes an individual an individual. “His” heart is suffering, but from what exactly? Earlier mentioned in the essay the relationship between the old man and the narrator is not exposed, but if you’d further read between the lines and still have the thought of the old man being a father or a servant to”him” thus the narrator describes the old man” Object there was none. Passion there was none. I loved the old man.
He had never wronged me. He had never given me an insult. For his gold, I had no desire”
which reflects an image of the old man not being a servant because at the time servant were usually not financially secure.”He” continues “I think it was his eye” and that was the objective to his sinnings. The symbolical value of the heart is his urge to confess to the officers.

A gamechanger of thought to the story is if the narrator isn’t a man but instead a woman.
When the narrator invites the officers into the household she seems very cheerful and welcoming which is in this time period a very feminine trait which leads to a good indication that the narrator is a woman, but not good enough to label the narrator/murderer to be a woman. In this literary period women, in general, were more emotional and soft thus her stereotype was relying on being good her heart couldn’t bear to keep a secret of that nature.

Concluding the text the eye is the narrator’s conscience which forces the heart (the narrator’s mind) to drive him insane with voices and an eardrum-shaking heartbeat from the old man’s corpses, getting “him” arrested for his sinful crime.


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Symbols of the Tell Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe. (2020, Sep 21). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/symbols-of-the-tell-tale-heart-by-edgar-allan-poe/

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