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Human Vices in “The Tell-Tale Heart” by Poe Essay (Critical Writing)

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Updated: Apr 21st, 2021

In “The Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allan Poe, the first vice I am going to explore is that of hatred. As the story begins, the narrator distinctly describes his hatred towards the old man’s eye: “Whenever it fell upon me, my blood ran cold; and so by degrees—very gradually—I made up my mind to take the life of the old man, and thus rid myself of the eye forever” (Poe). By becoming as fixated on something as trivial as an eye, one can see that the narrator does really hate the older man, but is seeking some excuse within his mind to make the murder justifiable.

Again, after the narrator murders the old man, one can see his hatred for the eye of this poor old man: “There was no pulsation. He was stone dead. His eye would trouble me no more” (Poe). Again, the narrator justifies his actions by blaming this eye which has caused him so much internal strife.

The narrator of the story also displays the vice of dishonesty. At the beginning of the story, the narrator claims to really love the older man, yet he finds his eye maddening. Again, by choosing his eye to fixate on, it can be assumed that the narrator is, in fact, dishonest and bares some sort of ill will towards the older man. Perhaps he feels burdened by caring for the old man yet he emphasises at the beginning of the story, “I loved the old man. He had never wronged me. He had never given me insult” (Poe). If this were true, why would the narrator feel the need to murder him?

Finally, the narrator exhibits the vice of mistrust. It is clear that there is something wrong with the older man that makes the narrator not trust his intentions. This is again seen after he has killed and dismembered the older man. He does not trust that no one has heard this beating of the older man’s heart that plagues him. He does not trust the police officers that have come to investigate, and this mistrust turns out to be his undoing.

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"Human Vices in "The Tell-Tale Heart" by Poe." IvyPanda, 21 Apr. 2021, ivypanda.com/essays/human-vices-in-the-tell-tale-heart-by-poe/.

1. IvyPanda. "Human Vices in "The Tell-Tale Heart" by Poe." April 21, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/human-vices-in-the-tell-tale-heart-by-poe/.


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IvyPanda. "Human Vices in "The Tell-Tale Heart" by Poe." April 21, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/human-vices-in-the-tell-tale-heart-by-poe/.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "Human Vices in "The Tell-Tale Heart" by Poe." April 21, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/human-vices-in-the-tell-tale-heart-by-poe/.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'Human Vices in "The Tell-Tale Heart" by Poe'. 21 April.

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