The Tell Tale Heart By Edgar Allan Poe

He then uses literary devices such as symbolism, irony, and metaphors that further contributes to his two main themes. Throughout the story, there were many mentions of a watch that was a visual and auditory representation of the time that has elapsed. As the time tick down the death of the elderly man approaches as well as the narrator’s punishment for the crime. Poe stresses the significance of time in death when he adds “He was still sitting up in the bed listening; – just as I have done, night after night, hearkening to the death watches in the wall' (Poe).

This highlights the power the narrator feels as he becomes the angle of death and decides to rob the old man of the time he has left on this earth. He then uses a metaphor referring to the old man as stone dead. One literary device used throughout the entire story is dramatic irony, we as the readers can conclude that the narrators are mad from his words and actions yet, he continues to question whether how he’s mad.

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For instance, the narrator states, “I heard all things in the heaven and the earth. I heard many things hell. How then, am I mad?” (Poe). Another example of symbolism is the narrators’ guilt that ultimately led to his punishment for his crime was the beating of the heart. As after killing the wide-awake elderly man the beating would not stop as the narrator's mental state deteriorated. The title of the story reflects the heart telling on the narrator as he believed the police could also hear the heart because of his delusion.

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This is shown in the story on page 67 stating, “Yes! Yes, I killed him. Pull up the boards and you shall see! I killed him. But why does his heart not stop beating?! Why does it not stop!?” After hearing the heartbeat of the corpse beneath the floor, he suffered a breakdown confession.

Like many of Poe’s other works had the elements of gothic literature taken in a first-person narrative. As the narrator replays the events of the murder and tries to prove his sanity his words are very choppy and frantic. This economical style of writing is used by Poe to shows the rushed mindset of the narrator as he speaks “True! Nervous I had been and I am! But why will you say that I am mad? The disease had sharpened my senses, not destroyed them.” (Poe). Also, Poe's writes his story in a first-person POV creates suspense and tensions that set the mood for the narrative. His portrayal of words allows readers to feel as if they're observing the whole event, frame by frame adding to the overall mood.

In conclusion Poe uses literal device, symbolism ,irony , pathos, ethos and logos to appeal to his readers as well as his gothic horror writing styles which he uses to set the narrator mood for the short story and cause his readers sense through suspense, guilt and mental unsoundness.Poe shares specific entries such as the old man’s heartbeat, watch, evil eyes, the bed and bedroom to facilitate readers to get a vivid understanding of the main character ideas and emotion to Enhance the fixation the narrator had with the old man. The narrator kills the old man in the text not because of money, hate or anger ,but because of his evil eyes that continued to haunt him leading


  1. Poe, E. A. (n.d.). The Tell Tale Heart. Retrieved from
Updated: Feb 25, 2024
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The Tell Tale Heart By Edgar Allan Poe. (2024, Feb 25). Retrieved from

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