Theme Of Darkness In A Tell Tale Heart

Decent Essays

The restricted societal norms of the Victorian Era forced non-conforming ideas and behaviors into the shadows, much like the fictitious vampires or psychopaths. A wide swath of vampire lore reflects this repression. Vampires cannot exist in the light of day, and thus are forced to go out only under the cover of darkness. If light represents “enlightenment”, a popular literary movement in the Victorian era, then darkness must symbolize what was deemed unfit for civilized society. In “A Tell-Tale Heart”, Poe’s nameless narrator only obsesses over the old man’s vulture-eye at night. What does this have to do with repression? It can be interpreted that the narrator knows his intention to kill the old man is evil, and so he represses his desire under the cover of night. The act of repression is solely committed by one’s mind, and as Freud would argue, the subconscious in particular. Freud established the theory that the psyche is divided into the id, ego, and superego; and these three forces battle to control the subconscious. This internal turmoil presents itself consistently in gothic literature, and often is interpreted through mirrors and doppelgängers. In “A Tell-Tale Heart” the narrator’s fixation with the old man’s glassy vulture-eye could symbolize the narrator’s fixation with a part of himself he wants to repress. Eye is a homonym of I, and there are plenty of examples in the text which suggest that there is no old man, only the narrator who manifests this “old man”

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