The Tell-Tale Heart - Detailed Summary Character Analysis Themes Symbolism Imagery Allegory Questions

4 Ocak 2014 Cumartesi

The Tell-Tale Heart - Edgar Allan Poe

A nameless person explains that he is and was extremely nervous, but is not and was not insane. Rather, the narrator has a "disease" which makes all his senses, especially his hearing, very sensitive. To prove that he isn't insane, the narrator shares an event from his past.
The narrator has an idea that he can't shake. The narrator's story begins with an "idea," an idea that turns into an obsession. He loves the old man and has nothing against him. Except… His horrible eye, which is "pale blue […] with a film over it" . The narrator hates the eye and decides to kill the old man to be free of it.
To that end, the narrator goes to the old man's room every night at 12am, for seven days. Each night the narrator opens the man's door and puts in a lantern. After the lantern, the narrator puts his head through the doorway, extremely slowly, and then opens the lantern so a tiny beam of light shines on the old man's eye. Each night the old man doesn't open his eye, so the narrator feels that he can't kill him.
On the eighth night, the old man hears the narrator at the door and wakes up. The narrator hangs out there in the dark for a long time, then, with a scream, plunges into the totally dark room, opening the lantern, and shining light on the old man's eye. The narrator drags the old man, who has only screamed once, off the bed, and then pulls the bed on top of the man. When the narrator hears the man's heart stop beating, he removes the bed and checks to make sure the old man is really dead, which he is. So the narrator cuts him up and hides his remains under the floor.
Then three policemen come. A neighbor had heard a scream and called them. The narrator says he screamed while sleeping, and claims that the old man is out of town. After convincing the cops nothing bad is going down, the narrator brings them into the old man's bedroom, and they all sit down to chat. While they are all shooting the breeze, the narrator starts hearing a terrible ticking noise, which gets louder and louder until the narrator freaks out, confesses, and points the police to the old man's body, stating that the sound is coming from the old man's heart.

Character Analysis

The Narrator

Our narrator is such a wreck, it's hard not to feel sorry for him. He's nervous ("very dreadfully nervous"), paranoid, and physically and mentally ill. He doesn't know the difference between the "real" and the "unreal," and seems to be completely alone and friendless in the world. We suspect that he rarely sleeps. He's also a murderer.

The Old Man

The old man is even more of a mystery than the narrator, partly because we only see him through the narrator's perspective. We know he has money). We also know he has a blue eye that the narrator is afraid of, and which fits the description of a corneal ulser. According to the narrator, the old man suspects nothing because the narrator was super nice to him the week before he killed him. We can't prove the old man wasn't suspicious, but because he leaves his bedroom door unlocked we can assume it. But, it seems he does trust the narrator enough to give him the run of the house while he sleeps.

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

The Old Man's Eye

The old man's eye is blue with a "film" or "veil" covering it. This could be a medical condition, like a corneal ulser, but symbolically it means that the characters have issues with their "inner vision" The narrator is fixated on the "vulture eye" aspect of the old man's eye. He brings it up three times. Vultures prey on the sick or dead. Whether or not the old man is a vulture-like person, we can't know. But that's what he symbolizes to the narrator. If vultures prey on the dead and almost dead, and the narrator is afraid of the "vulture eye," does this mean the narrator is dead or almost dead? Do you think that it's possible that the narrator is a slave and the old man his owner?
We assume that the old man is white. This is the one bit of color in the story, and the only detail we are given as to any character's physical appearance. If the narrator is a slave, this blue eye might have looked on him with an air of possession, dominance, superiority, and perhaps even disgust.
This interpretation would also explain the narrator's nervousness. As a slave, this sensitive guy could have been exposed to all kinds of horrors and would have lived in fear. It could also explain why the narrator took so much pleasure in violating the man's privacy.

The Tell-Tale Heart Questions

1.Why do you think the name of the story is ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’ ?
2.What’s the relation between Poe’s two stories; The Tell-Tale Heart and The Black Cat?
3.Was the narrator angry with the old man or his eye?
4.What does the eye symbolize?
5.What’s his plan to get rid of the man’s eye?
6.What’s the narrator’s illness? Whose illnesses are the same in the book?
7.How long did it take to put his head into the room? Why couldn’t he finish his work on the first day?
8.What did the narrator do after he killed the old man?
9.Why did the narrator confess his crime?

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