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The Tell Tale Heart short story was written by Edgar Allan Poe and published in the year 1843. The narrator of the story is unnamed and he insisted on his sanity after he murdered the old man who with a vulture eye and hid his body under floor boards. The author of the book used several elements of fiction, which include the character, theme, character, symbolism, point of view, setting, plot, etc.

Characters

The Narrator

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The author of the book used a nameless character, who was an old man who invited the police to his home after they got a call from a neighbor who claimed to have heard the scream at the night the man was murdered and had been suspicious that something was very fishy. The protagonist is the tale’s true focus. Poe did not indicate as to whether the narrator was a male or a female because throughout the whole of the story, Poe only used “I” and the word “me” while referring to the character. There is the assumption that narrator can be male, because the writer is a male too, and he used the first person narration because he assumed that the reader would be able to know that the main protagonist was male, so he did not find important to specify the sex of the narrator (Booth and Mays, 2010).

The Old Man

The old man is a total mystery, just like the narrator, because he is seen through the skewed perspective of the narrator. The old man has a blue eye, which the narrator of the story is afraid of; he is old, and a fairly sound sleeper. He is trustful because he did not suspect anything bad in the narrator, because the narrator was really nice to him about a week before killing him, and he did not lock the door to his bedroom. He was quite afraid of robbers, but he trusted the narrator and never though that he could do something insane.

The Three Policemen

The three policemen also played very important role in the narrator’s story, because they were very quick to respond to the neighbors' suspicions and showed up at the house without wasting time. In the story, the policemen are considered to be fairly unambiguous and flat characters who knew their work and did what they were supposed to do. After they were convinced that there was nothing wrong, they did not leave immediately after the narrator gave them a tour of the house, but they stuck around the house so that they could see if the pressure might force anything productive to confirm their suspicion (Booth and Mays, 2010).

The old man is depicted as an alienated figure, because even the neighbor was afraid of the old man’s eye, which also made the neighbor very suspicious of all the on goings of the house that made him insist that not just one policemen is sent there, but three. The narrator thought that the old man was mad because the narrator considered the old man to be dulled and that he never had any idea of what was going on around him, and was not even able to defend himself (Silverman, 1991).

The Neighbor

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The neighbor in this story plays a minor but important role. He is used to bring out the fact that the narrator expresses fear, because the neighbor was terrified, and when he heard the scream of the old man, he went to the police station and was able to convince them of his suspicions. The complaint of the neighbor was taken very seriously and the policemen went out to investigate and satisfy their curiosity.

Symbolism

The Old Man’s Eye

The old man’s eye was blue and had a veil, which covered it, and it was very weird, because it seemed to be unseeing and dull and was believed to have strange powers, which made the blood of the narrator run cold, since it chilled every marrow which was in his bones. After the narrator murdered the old man, he hid the body and replaced the boards so that no human eye could detect anything. The eye was considered to have a bodyguard, which was the heart, because the beam on the eye, which was open, caused the heart to beat as an alert. The narrator brought out the old man’s eye as the vulture eye, where the eye symbolized a vulture which, preyed on the dead or the sick.

The Watch

The watch tells the tales of time and the narrator compared himself to a watch when he stated that the minute hand of the watch moved faster than his hand did. He was the watch, which was watching the death of the old man. The narrator was a walking death watch because he controlled the death of the old man. The heart of the old man is also a watch in the story, because, in the first passage, it counted and watched the time that led to the old man’s death, and in the second passage, it became a zombie and was able to tell all about the time of the death that it saw (Levine and Susan, 1990).

The Lantern

The lantern in the story symbolizes a hidden light, because the lantern has a hinged panel which allows one to adjust the light that one desires to have. The narrator hid most of the light and allowed only one ray to be able to escape. The lantern was the weapon used by the narrator against the vulture eye on the eighth night.

 
 
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The Bed and the Bedroom

The bed in the story is used as the murder weapon by the narrator; the bedroom symbolizes the burial place.

Themes

Guilt and Innocence

Guilt is one of the major themes in the story, since it is about a mad person who kills another for no reason at all, and as the story progresses, the narrator is able to hear an interminable heartbeat, which makes him plead guilty when he shouts all his confessions to the three policemen who had come to the house. The old man was innocent and he was killed just because he had a pale blue eye, and the innocence of the old man is what made the narrator have a self-betrayal, because he had a conscience. This shows that what can be hidden from the others and within the self can never be concealed forever, showing that there is a conscience in every human being and, especially, the conscience of the narrator (Booth and Mays, 2010).

Cunning and Cleverness

The narrator of the story is very cunning and clever, which is later nullified by his cruelty. When he used the lantern lamp on the old man’s eye as he slept, he thought that it was a way that he could get rid of the blue eye of the man. Immediately, after he killed the old man, he hid his body under the floor boards; he thought that he was very clever since he had hid the body from any human that might have tried to search. This was evident when the three policemen arrived at the house, he gave them a tour in the house and they searched but found nothing, which made them think that the narrator was innocent. If it was never for his confession, then the police would have never found out the entire truth about the murder of the old man since the narrator had convinced them that the old man had gone out on a trip, and they had believed his story, which shows how clever and cunning the narrator was (Levine and Susan, 1990).

Mortality and Death

The story talks about a killer, but his motives are well hidden. This story has an underlying sense of mourning and sadness. It talks about the murder of an innocent old man who had a vulture eye, which made the blood of the narrator run cold and this fear in the narrator evoked the dark side of him, which was the main cause of the murder of the old man. (Silverman, 1991). 

   

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