The evil eye

Edgar Allen Poe shows us the dark part of human kind. Conflict with in ones self, state of madness, and emotional break down all occur within this short story. The narrator of the story is a mad man that is haunted by his idea that the old man has an evil eye. Through the first person narrator, Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart” illustrates how man’s imagination is capable of being so vivid that it profoundly affects people’s lives.

The manifestation of the narrator’s imagination unconsciously plants seeds in his mind, and those seeds grow into an unmanageable situation for which there is no room for reason and which culminates in murder. The fixation on the old man’s vulture-like eye forces the narrator to concoct a plan to eliminate the old man. The narrator confesses the sole reason for killing the old man is his eye.

The narrator begins his tale of betrayal by trying to convince the reader he is not insane, but the reader quickly surmises the narrator indeed is out of control. The fact that the old man’s eye is the only motivation to murder proves the narrator is so mentally unstable that he must search for justification to kill. In his mind, he rationalizes murder with his own unreasonable fear of the eye. The narrator wrestles with conflicting feelings of responsibility to the old man and feelings of ridding his life of the man’s “Evil Eye”.

Although afflicted with overriding fear and derangement, the narrator still acts with quasi-allegiance toward the old man; however, his kindness may stem more from protecting himself from suspicion of watching the old man every night than from genuine compassion for the old man. The narrator shows his contrariety when he confesses he loves the old man, but he is still too overwhelmed by the pale blue eye to restrain him from the all-consuming desire to eliminate the eye.

His struggle is evident as he waits to kill the old man in his sleep so that he won’t have to face the old man when he kills him; but on the other hand, the narrator can’t justify the killing unless the vulture eye was open. The narrator is finally able to kill the man because of the torture of the eye. The narrator sets out to rid his life of the fear he created by obsessing over the man’s eye, but once that fear is destroyed, another fear ? that of the heartbeat ? is created and becomes more overwhelming than the first.

In playing mind games with him ? seeing how far he can push himself to triumph over his own insanity ? the narrator slips further into a fantasy world. His overriding confidence in killing the man ultimately turns into overriding guilt even as he justifies in his mind the savage killing, chopping up the body and placing it under the floorboards. The narrator’s imagination creates his need and plan to destroy the eye, but it then creates the need to save himself from the heartbeat that drives him over the edge.

Symbolism is an important aspect of the story. The major symbol is the heartbeat. The narrator believed that the sound was the beating of the old man’s heart, but it was actually his own heartbeat, signifying his fear of being caught, and his guilty conscience tormenting him for killing the old man. The vulturous, blue veiled eye clearly represents evil, the evil that the narrator saw in the eye that he was trying to eliminate. A theme of “The Tell-Tale Heart” is that human nature is a delicate balance of light and dark, or good and evil.

Most of the time this precarious proportion is maintained; however, when there is a shift, for whatever reason, the dark or perverse side emerges. How and why this dark side arises differs from person to person. What may push one individual over the edge will only cause another to raise an eyebrow. The external conflict is the eye itself; the narrator feels that the old man’s eye is always watching him in turn makes him think he can read his mind. “It was open? wide, wide open? and I grew furious as I gazed upon it.

I saw it with perfect distinctness? all a dull blue, with a hideous veil over it that chilled the very marrow in my bones. ” A madman can only take so much when he fixated on an eye. I don’t know if one could blame the narrator for he could only handle so much from this “Evil Eye”. Thank You Professor Gribble-Neal for giving me the opportunity to do this, also thank you for opening up new doors as far as my liking towards literature. I enjoyed your class very much and highly recommend it.

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