The Tell Tale Heart Essays

Words: 1030
Pages: 5

The Symbolism of a Beating Heart With a descriptive epistle of murder and insanity, “The Tell Tale Heart” threw itself into history as a classic. The narrator tells of his plot to murder an old man with a “vulture eye.” Although he sneaks into his bedroom, night after night, he still cannot murder the old man, because he loves the man, but hates the eye. When seeing the vulture eye on the eighth night, he murders the old man and dismembers his body. While insisting upon his sanity he hears the old man’s heart beating under the floorboard. Because of a neighbor’s complaint, the police show up to investigate, but he quickly quells their suspicion with his smooth talk and calmness. If the heart stopped its loud beating, the murderer would …show more content…
By counting each second, in the same way a heart beats, it represents a man's life, with each tick bringing it closer to the inevitable death that all human beings face. Talking about his life, the murderer says, “A watch's minute hand moves more quickly than did mine” (Poe 1206). When the narrator first heard the heart beat, he compared it to a watch. “Now I say, there came to my ears a low, dull, quick sound such as a watch makes when enveloped in cotton” (Poe 1207). Secondly, the murderer continues with this symbol of time, “He was still sitting up in the bed listening; – just as I have done, night after night, hearkening to the death watches in the wall” (Poe 1207). In this sense, the “death watch” refers to a small beetle that lives in the wall. During mating season, this beetle bangs its head against the wall in order to attract a mate. Because of its consistency, this sounds almost like a ticking watch to an ordinary person.
The three main symbolic objects were the vulture eye, the beating heart, and the watch. Although the watch had more than one meaning, it still symbolized how the heart ticked its last tick when the narrator murdered him. The eye symbolized the parental force on the narrator. Every time the vulture eye focused on him, it sent chills down his spine. He could not stand the eye, but he loved the old man. He even said that the only motive to kill the old man was the vulture eye. This eye, covered