Symbolism In Edgar Allan Poe's The Tell-Tale Heart

792 Words4 Pages
Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Tell Tale Heart” displays a plethora of literary elements that enhance the story and make it come to life. Through imagery, Poe creates an eerie atmosphere that heightens the spine chilling senses in his readers. The symbolism in “The Tell Tale Heart” creates depth in the story to magnify Poe’s psychological themes. In Edgar Allan Poe’s short story entitled “The Tell Tale Heart,” literary elements such as imagery and symbolism embellish the work and construct a deeper sense of meaning. The dark and creepy imagery in “The Tell Tale Heart” contribute to the work’s theme of insanity through the senses of sound and sight. For example, the sight imagery Poe gives when the narrator describes the old man’s eye creates a shudder-some…show more content…
The simile used when the narrator describes “His eye was like the eye of a vulture, the eye of one of those terrible birds that watch and wait while an animal dies,” (Poe 64) shows the strange insane obsession the narrator had with the old man’s grotesque eye. Furthermore, the sound imagery of the old man’s beating heart, even after he died and had been dismembered, gives the readers a nightmarish sense of how unstable the narrator is. When the narrator states “Suddenly I knew that the sound was not in my ears, it was not just inside my head,” (Poe 67) the audience is then aware of the narrator’s insanity, which contrasts the calm sanity of the policemen who do not here the beating. He then exclaims “I killed him. But why does his heart not stop beating?! Why does it not stop!?” (Poe 67) which is the turning point of the story, and when the narrator admits his madness to the outside world. More significant sight imagery include the light and dark…show more content…
The most obvious symbol, the wretched eye of the old man symbolizes self-reflection that sees the true nature of one’s being in which the narrator cannot come to terms with. The narrator has an obsession with the old man’s eye, enough to kill him over it (Poe 65). He describes it as a vulture that “fall(s) upon the dead body and pull it to pieces to eat it” (Poe 65) this description gives the reader insight into why the narrator hates the old man’s eye. It sees through things and picks them apart. The narrator can’t handle the judgement and the forced self-reflection of character the old man’s eye lays upon him, so he decides to end it by killing him. (Poe 67) The other important symbol, the old man’s beating heart, represents the humanity or moral sense in the narrator. At first, the narrator shows no sign of remorse when he kills the man, only relief. (Poe 66) He then boosts about committing the crime and is even arrogant saying he has “no fear” (Poe 66) in talking to the police officers. As the story continues, the narrator starts to hear the old man’s beating heart, which the audience knows is impossible since the narrator killed him. The readers then can extrapolate that the sound of the beating heart is actually the narrator’s consciousness manifesting itself to a noise only he can hear (Poe 67). Finally the narrator’s guilt purges itself

More about Symbolism In Edgar Allan Poe's The Tell-Tale Heart

Open Document