Edgar Allan Poe
• Born on January 19, 1809, in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S. • Poe never really knew his parents.
• Also wrote The Raven, The Pit and the Pendulum, The Fall of the House of Usher, and Annabel Lee
• Poe published his first book, Tamerlane and Other Poems in 1827.
• He married his cousin Virginia, in 1836, when she was only 13.
• Poe had problems with alcohol
• Died on October 7, 1849
The Tell Tale Heart
• The story opens up with the narrator scared of an old man because of the veil on his eye.
• He goes to the old man’s apartment every night using his lantern to watch him sleep, plotting his murder.
• On the eighth night the man wakes up and shrieks, and the narrator hears his terrified heart beat.
• Worried that the neighbors will hear, he quickly kills the old man.
• He then dismembers the body and hides the pieces below the floorboards in the bedroom.
• A neighbor heard the old man’s shriek, and called the police.
• The narrator acted very calm chatting with the police men.
• During the interrogation, he hears the dead man’s heart beating.
• Thinking the police would hear the man’s heart, he confesses to the crime and shrieks at the men to rip up the floorboards.
• Throughout The Tell Tale Heart symbolism can reflect the narrator’s descent to madness.
The symbolism of the beating heart
• When the narrator hears the old man’s beating heart it symbolizes his self guilt or his own fear. This causes the narrator to go mad and confess his murder.
• In the story, the narrator claims he actually hears the heart beating. However, it is his subconscious guilt making him go crazy.
• Therefore, to conclude if it weren’t for the narrator’s guilt he would not have heard the beating heart and give himself up.
The symbolism of the old man’s eye
• The narrator is scared of the old man’s eye, therefore he is scared not only of the eye, but the old man himself.
This shows that the eye symbolizes the old man’s identity.
• The old man’s eye made the narrator feel intimidated, causing him to descend into madness.
• The old man’s eye was the reason why he killed him.
The symbolism of the narrator’s lantern
• When the narrator visits the old man at night, he uses the lantern to watch him sleep. The lantern was an aid to the narrator’s descent into madness in killing the old man.
• Without the lantern he wouldn’t have been able to watch the man sleep and plot the murder.
• The lantern is associated with uncovering truths, the truth of the narrator’s insanity.
• To conclude, in The Tell Tale Heart symbolism is the key component to the narrator’s decline into madness.
• We see the symbolism in the following examples:
• The beating heart
• The old man’s eye
• The narrator’s lantern