In-depth analysis of some of the most popular short stories including summaries, character analysis, narrative technique, symbolism and much more.

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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Symbolism: The Tell Tale Heart

Symbolism: The Tell Tale Heart

The Tell Tale Heart Symbolism: The Eye

Symbolism The Tell Tale Heart

The Eye in "The Tell Tale Heart" symbolizes the part of the narrator's identity that he refuses to accept or confront. Eyes are often viewed as representative of one's true nature, and as being able to reveal an aspect of one's personality that the other senses may hide. The narrator believes this is the case with his victim, believing the eye reveals something of the old man, that no one else was able to see. The narrator even reduces the old man's identity to his eye, when he states "I saw [the eye] with perfect distinctness...I could see nothing else of the old man's face or person;". The reader is able to realize, however, that it is not the old man, but the narrator himself that the eye represents. Looking at the words that the narrator uses to describe the eye prove this. The narrator describes the eye as "evil" and comparing it to that of a "vulture". These words, however, better describe the narrator. The narrator can be described as "evil" when without reason or motive, he kills the old man, dismembers his body, hides it under the floor, and even boldly allows the police to sit over the site of the old man's body, and converses with them. He can also be described as a "vulture" when like an animal he stalks his victim, relying on instinct, and forgetting all human qualities. It is also evident that the narrator has a problem accepting himself and his actions. The story opens with him rejecting the notion that he is crazy, and he remains adamant throughout. This problem accepting his identity also explains why, whenever he looks at the old man's eye he becomes angry, and why he felt the need to get rid of it.



The Tell Tale Heart Symbolism: The Lantern

Symbolism The Tell Tale Heart

The lantern in "The Tell Tale Heart" symbolizes the lack of insight on the part of the narrator, and acts as a support for his beliefs. Lanterns are objects that provide light, and light is often associated with uncovering truths. In this context, however, the lantern acts as an extension of the narrator's worldview, allowing him to see things as he sees them, and not necessarily as they are. It is interesting to note that the lantern remains dark most of the time, though the narrator uses it to guide him in a sense, pushing the lantern first through the door. Once the lantern is turned on,the light it emits does not show the old man as the kind human being the narrator describes him as in the beginning, but instead shows him as the "evil eye". The lantern actually aids the narrator in his intent to murder, and further reinforces his views toward the old man.

The Tell Tale Heart Symbolism: The Heart

Symbolism The Tell Tale Heart

The beating heart in "The Tell Tale Heart" symbolizes the human like aspect of the narrator. Throughout the story the narrator presents himself as an animal, void of any emotions, and lacking the ability to show sympathy. He takes pride in his act, in stalking the old man like an animal, and even brags about committing the perfect murder. He becomes human, however, when he begins to feel guilty about what he has done. He begins to hear the dead man's heart, and not being able to continue with the reminder of his deed, he confesses. The heart reveals his conscience, and after hearing it, it is the only time he is presented as having some sort of moral code.


14 comments:

  1. So he didnt actually hear the old mans heart though, right?

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    1. no, he was mentally insane and dealing with guilt

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    2. Thanks for that. It really helped me on my work.

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    3. he may have heard his own heart beating very loudly because he was nervous and feeling guilty

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  2. Yes he does believe he is "hearing" the old man's heart (he is mentally unstable), however, the old man's heart is technically not beating, so the sounds are in fact not real. The fact that the old man is dead, and police men show no reaction to the sound of the beating heart is evidence of this. The sound is actually a manifestation of his insanity and his guilt.

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  3. He is hearing his own heartbeat but he thinks its the old mans heart.

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  4. Yea the heartbeat was the his not the old man.

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  5. I don't think the heart beat has to be the narrator's. The protagonist probably suffers from schizophrenia (I assume he tells his story from an asylum) so he hears things that aren't real.There are the deathwatches and the beats that he hears which drive him mad. He believes that the heart beat is the old man's that becomes loud enough for his neighbours to hear and then becomes quiet as the man dies. The beat causes him to commit the murder and confess it in turn.

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  6. hehe very helpful

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  7. what would be an exact example of imagery

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  8. soo helpful thank you very much

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  9. Why are the heart and eye important symbols in the story??

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  10. the narrator is not necessarily a man so idk why are you all using he/him when referring to the narrator

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