Edgar Allen Poe’s Tell-Tale heart illustrates that guilt is a powerful motivating factor behind an individual’s actions. Symbolism, tone, and the content of the short story all interact with one another and work together to create certain effects and meanings within the short story. This short story shows how guilt can overwhelm and conquer the mind, which in turn led to the confession of the homicide the narrator committed and revealed at the end of the story.
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Poe describes the main characters thoughts and actions and the effect that his mental instability has on it. The author shows how large a role the human psyche can play when under duress, as well as how much guilt can drive our actions. Without the teamwork and utilization of symbolism, tone and the series of unfortunate events within this piece, the short story would be ineffective and uninteresting to readers.
The symbolism in the story works together with content to give meaning to this piece of literature. The symbolism described offers an image to create an effect for the audience. In the beginning of the story, the narrator visits the old man every night at midnight to watch him sleep. He enters the old man’s room with a lantern to shine light on the old man’s vulture like eye. The eye represents the old man’s soul. The main character believes that the Evil Eye has power to curse him and it gives him anxiety. The feeling of uneasiness the speaker gets from the old man’s eye causes him to murder the old man. The other symbol that is presented in the story is the beating heart. After he buried the body under the floor boards, the police officers came to the house. When speaking with them he heard the beating heart of the victim he slaughtered and dismembered.
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