When thinking of Edgar Allan Poe, do horrifying stories and twisted tales come to mind? In Poe’s stories, he demonstrates how symbolism can be used to show abstract ideas. In his unsettling works, he uses the symbolism of death, revenge, and insanity to strengthen the plot.
Symbolism is found quite often in most of Poe’s tales. In The Tell-Tale Heart the idea of death is prominent. The first example is the insect chosen by the author. The butler states that, night after night, I hearkened to the death watches in the wall. The death watches were used because they are an omen of
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death. The second example is the shadow of death on the wall. The narrator says, …because Death, in approaching him had stalked with his black shadow before him, and enveloped the victim. This means that Death had known the old man’s time had come. Poe also symbolizes revenge. The first example is the beating of the old man’s heart. It was the beating of the old man’s heart. It increased my fury, as the beating of a drum stimulates the soldier into courage. This means that the narrator had imagined the old man’s dead heart beating, when in reality that couldn’t be. The second example is the the police men mocking the butler. They heard! –they suspected! –they knew! –they were making a mockery of my horror! This final piece of evidence proves that the narrator was imagining that the officers were laughing at him, because he had a guilty conscience. Tell-Tale Heart symbolizes insanity as well. The first example is the narrator having self-doubt. You fancy me mad. Madmen know nothing. How, then, am I mad? The second example is the butler comparing himself to a madmen. Ha! would a madman have been so wise as this… A third example is the narrator doubting others. …but why will you say that I am mad? This shows that the narrator has to persuade himself that he is in fact not a madmen. Poe used symbolism in his story The Tell-Tale Heart, to further strengthen the plot, and to make the story more interesting.
Poe’s story, Cask of Amontillado also has symbolism, death being the major one. The first example is the silence of Fortunato. No answer still. I thrust a torch through the remaining aperture and let it fall within. There came forth in return only a jingling of the bells.
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