The Tell-Tale Heart

“The Tell-Tale Heart” is another great short story in which Edgar Allan Poe points out how distorted our own impressions can be when mentally ill.

Another detail that Poe takes into account is the fact that people who suffer from psychological disorders typically try to convince others that there is nothing wrong with them. Along the same lines, the narrator repeats himself  by asserting that he is not insane. “How then am I mad? Hearken! And observe how healthily, how calmly, I can tell you the whole story.” Later on, while describing his friend’s Evil Eye and rationalizing  his plot to kill the man, he says “I made up my mind  to take the life of the old man, and thus rid myself of the eye for ever.” Now, this sounds very lucid, doesn’t it!

Typically, the stories that end with a grisly murder involve certain conflicts between the characters, or at least the feelings of hatred or jealousy. No, not in this case! The narrator even expresses his love for the old man. All he has against the poor man is his Evil Eye, and that makes him appear even more lunatic.

We all know that eyes are the windows into someone’s soul. What leaves me perplexed after reading the story is the question whether the old man was really an evil creature or all of it was just the product of the narrator’s sick imagination. Having said that, the old man never wronged or insulted the narrator, so I tend to believe that the “vulture eye” was in fact the narrator’s deep fears and violent nature that he didn’t want to be revealed by the old man. It is not the “vulture” eye by accident! Vultures can see everything and they prey on dead. Perhaps the narrator was afraid of dying and thought that by killing the man and his Evil Eye, he would be able to free himself from those morbid thoughts…

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One response to “The Tell-Tale Heart

  1. I love the graphic! It provides a moment of insight into the stalking scenes of the story.

    This is another excellent response, and I’m so glad that you brought up some of this in class.

    Fabulous job!

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