The Tell Tale Heart Symbolism Essay

Words: 1861
Pages: 8

Though tales of terror and mystery undoubtedly constitute a great portion of the modern world’s literature, such stories garnered rather little success in the ages directly preceding the current time. Throughout the decades prior to and including the 1800s, mediums of writing that incorporated elements of horror were quite rare, though a notable contributor to this genre, Edgar Allan Poe, published the entirety of his works during the aforementioned period. While he has attained near universal recognition in recent years, he struggled to gather adequate funds from a profession that primarily consisted of publishing frightening tales, although the majority of them achieved astonishing prevalence, including the short stories The Tell-Tale Heart …show more content…
The eye is a major symbol that Poe mentions several times throughout the story. It is the impetus that foments the narrator’s determination to murder the old man. According to the seventh page of the story, the narrator states, “I then replaced the boards so cleverly, so cunningly, that no human eye-not even his-could have detected any thing wrong.” Within this excerpt, the narrator claims that his reconstruction of the floorboards was truly flawless, and not even the eye of the deceased man could descry any abnormalities or imperfections. Apparently, the eye symbolizes an awareness of the narrator’s insanity, for he suggests that the eye possesses the capability of distinguishing imperfections that others fail to see, and could therefore view his mental condition. An additional symbol featured in the text is the sound of a beating heart. Within the eighth page of the tale, the narrator described, “I felt that I must scream or die!-and now-again!-hark! Louder! Louder! Louder! Louder!- ‘Villains!’ I shrieked, ‘dissemble no more! I admit the deed!-tear up the planks!-here, here!-it is the beating of his hideous heart!’” The narrator is tormented by the sound of what he believes to be the beating of the old man’s heart, and he eventually confesses to the crime due to it. Clearly, the beating heart symbolizes guilt, for it incites him to admit committing the murder, much like