Symbolism in ‘The Tell Tale Heart’
The great writer, Edgar Allan Poe, was born in Boston, Massachusetts on January 19th, 1809 (Giordano). His mother was British and his father was American (Giordano). They both died before Poe was three so he was raised as a foster child by John and Frances Allan in Richmond, Virginia. Poe had a very hard childhood growing up and, one can say, that much of his work is symbolic of his life and his take on life. One of his most well known short stories, “The Tell- Tale Heart”, is a great piece of writing portraying his skill of capturing vivid images of horror. There is great symbolism in this short story that has more meaning to it than meets the eye. Symbolism is evident in some of the objects used in the story and has some significance in the life of Poe. The Old man’s eye is covered with a veil, indicating a blurred vision. This symbolizes that the characters in the story have an unclear outlook of the world. The watch is symbolic for time. Poe expresses how time is very precious and limited in this short story. The lantern is symbolic for light in the story. However, there is not much light in the story which may have been purposely used as the story is more towards the horror theme, but it has some significance to Poe’s life. Although he had gone through so much sorrow and hardship in his life, there was a ray of light for him in all this darkness because all his work has remained until the 21st century.
The Old Man eye’s is bogus and is covered with a veil or film, symbolic of blurred vision. On a much bigger scale, the symbol of the old man’s eye symbolizes the unclear vision of the characters in the story. It can suggest that the characters have an uncertain outlook of the world. One can assume that this uncertainty may have been a real life experience for Poe. He grew up without his biological parents. He was in so many gambling debts in University which resulted in him being forced to leave the University of Virginia (Poe Museum Organisation). He was also permitted to the United States Military Academy, but was, again, forced to leave due his inability of paying his fees. Any individual who has undergone such horrible events would have felt doubtful and have had a negative outlook of the world because his or her future does not look promising.
Poe symbolizes time and its essence through a watch. The author uses the watch in the story as the watch “watches” time, and “tells tales of time.” The watch also conveys the idea that it is “watching death” in the coming future. Each second, minute, hour that passes symbolizes a move towards the unavoidable death that we, humans, will all face. Poe expresses this thought in the line “A watch’s minute hand moves more quickly than did mine.” Poe illustrates the fact that time is very limited and precious, as we near death each and every day. He lost a number of loved ones growing up, which was not easy for him to deal with. His experiences of losing them may have inspired him to express his idea of how fragile time is to his readers through this story.
Light is symbolized by a lantern in The Tell Tale Heart. The lantern can be adjusted by the hinged panels to