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Edgar Allen Poe's The Tell-Tale Heart and the Symbolism of the Eye

Good Essays
Edgar Allen Poe is the genius responsible for dark, twisting, and often uncomfortably wondrous gothic tales, and one of the best is 'The Tell-Tale Heart.' This is a classic tale of a confused man who is so incredibly bothered by his housemate's eye, that he (I am assuming this sexless character is male) thinks the only solution is to resort to cold-blooded murder. Poe incorporates the symbol of the old man's eye in 'The Tell-Tale Heart,' which has both physical and psychological meaning, it also helps to develop the plot and central conflicts in the story. The eye allows a better understanding of the narrator's mental state, represents an omniscient/fatherly figure, and helps illustrate the theme of good verses evil. The story?s…show more content…
The narrator tries to prove his sanity by illustrating how ?wisely? and ?cunningly? (Poe 722) he observed the old man?s eye the week before he killed him, yet the fact that he watched the man for hours every night just looking for the eye contradicts any sanity he could have claimed from being wise and cunning. The narrator makes it clear that it was the old man?s eye and not the old man himself that drove him to murder. He says ?I loved the old man. He had never wronged me. He had never given me insult,?(Poe 721) which shows that he obviously cared for the man, but this also tells us that the narrator is definitely mentally ill, since no sane person could kill someone he loves, especially over an eye! The narrator is constantly trying to prove his sanity, yet we can conclude that he actually, if not consciously, subconsciously understands he is going mad. He is the one that first puts the idea of him being mad in the reader?s mind, and he is the one that continually asks how it could be possible that he is mad, which shows that he himself is not sure. He?s trying to prove his sanity in such a desperate way, that I believe it is obvious he must have some idea of his insanity, otherwise he would just state his sanity, rather than trying to prove it. The power the
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