Edgar Allen Poe is the genius responsible for dark, twisting, and often uncomfortably wondrous gothic tales, and one of the best is 'The Tell-Tale Heart.' This is a classic tale of a confused man who is so incredibly bothered by his housemate's eye, that he (I am assuming this sexless character is male) thinks the only solution is to resort to cold-blooded murder. Poe incorporates the symbol of the old man's eye in 'The Tell-Tale Heart,' which has both physical and psychological meaning, it also helps to develop the plot and central conflicts in the story. The eye allows a better understanding of the narrator's mental state, represents an omniscient/fatherly figure, and helps illustrate the theme of good verses evil.
The story?s conflict revolves around the narrator plotting, planning, and executing a man?s death, yet it is the eye that causes this man?s obsession with murder. Another important conflict in the story is that of the narrators struggle to prove he is sane, he does this by trying to make the eye seem evil, more evil than his own deeds. The only reason the narrator gives for his decision of murder is the man?s eye, and it is the eye the narrator must see before he can actually kill the man. In the end of the story, the disposing of the eye actually leads to the narrator?s downfall. As you can see, the eye is the story?s main conflict, which helps to develop the plot, and really allows for a deeper understanding of the story.
The author uses the eye to provide clues as to why the narrator is so unreliable. ?I think it was his eye! Yes, it was this!? (Poe 721), the narrator uses the statement ?I think?, implying that he is obviously not very sure, and definitely unstable, since something he ?thinks? is a problem is serious enough to kill over. The eye is described as being physically disturbing: ?pale blue eye, with a film over it?(Poe 721), which also leads us to believe the narrator is unstable, since even though it sounds very unattractive, it?s still not a valid reason for a sane person to kill over. The narrator tries to prove his sanity by illustrating how ?wisely? and ?cunningly? (Poe 722) he observed the old man?s eye the week before he killed him, yet the fact that he watched the man for hours every night just looking for the eye contradicts any sanity he could have claimed from being wise and cunning.
The narrator makes it clear that it was the old man?s eye and not the old man himself that drove him to murder. He says ?I loved the old man. He had never wronged me. He had never given me insult,?(Poe 721) which shows that he obviously cared for the man, but this also tells us that the narrator is definitely mentally ill, since no sane person could kill someone he loves, especially over an eye!
The narrator is constantly trying to prove his sanity, yet we can conclude that he actually, if not consciously, subconsciously understands he is going mad. He is the one that first puts the idea of him being mad in the...