Back to: The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe
The story uses a lot of symbols to depict different notions and concepts. The central symbol is the old man’s pale eye that is hideous to look at for the narrator. We don’t get the reason for the condition of the eye.
Symbolically it also represents the inner ugliness that man is capable of. It represents a lack of clarity about someone’s real intentions.
It also creates a sense of frustration and anger in the narrator. It is compared with a vulture’s eye which in itself is a symbol of opportunism, decay, and predatory instincts.
Next, the writer uses the bedroom as a symbol of refuge, a place where one can reveal all the darkest of personal demons that one harbors in the heart. It also represents a place where one is most susceptible to harm even though one never expects such circumstances.
It is the place where one can close the eyes and feel safe in doing so. In the end, it is this safe haven that becomes the graveyard and final resting place for the old man
We also find several references for watches and clocks. This heightens the drama as well as represents important and pivotal moments in the story.
It represents an impending death or a long arduous wait till everything comes to an end. Watches also symbolize careful and meticulous routine and control which is how the narrator acts with the old man
The next symbol is the heart which represents the true nature of someone’s deep and darkest self. It also knows about the wrong things and acts that the rest of the body is up to. That is the reason it starts to rave whenever there is one wrong or stepping over the line.
The lantern represents the weapon of choice for the narrator. It also represents a speck of light that resides seven in the bleakest of moments.
However, one can extinguish that light if one decides to shut the doorway for that light to spring out and direct us on the right and straight path.