Horror and Figurative Language in "The Tale-Tell Heart"
Dreadfully chilling, "The Tell-Tale Heart" by Edgar Allan Poe is a horrific short story that introduces the reader to an utterly mad narrator who is driven to commit vile and heinous acts because of his unnatural obsession with his roommate's, an old man, cataract eye. The narrator's madness is revealed instantly, only to be substantiated when he devises a sinister plan to rid himself of the "vulture eye" forever. After seven nights of watching his prey sleep, the narrator strikes and coldheartedly murders the old man. A shriek calls the attention of a neighbor, who contacts the local authorities. The narrator, who is so overwhelmed with his own hubris, cheerily invites the three
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Poe adroitly demonstrates that he is ingenious when it comes to remarkably thrilling similes by using numerous examples throughout his work. This is evident when Poe writes, “His room was as black as pitch with the thick darkness (for the shutters were close fastened, through fear of robbers), and so I knew that he could not see the opening of the door, and I kept pushing it on steadily, steadily,” (Poe, paragraph 3, page 355) a simile comparing the blackness of the old man’s room to pitch using the signal word “resembles.” By comparing the old man’s room to a substance left behind by a ferocious fire, Poe creates a connection between the room and Hell. According to Greek mythology, it is assumed people are naturally terrified of the dark because Hades, the king of the underworld, has the power to move through and live in shadows and darkness. Given that the narrator is moving through the shadows of the old man’s room, he makes a strong connection to death personified (Hades), giving the story a dreary and grim tone. By using these bloodcurdling similes, Edgar Allan Poe crafts “The Tell-Tale Heart” into a creepy and mysterious story. Clearly, Edgar Allan Poe is a master at creating terror in “The Tell-Tale Heart” by using horrifying similes, along with many chilling metaphors. When Poe writes, “It is impossible to say how first the idea entered my brain; but once conceived, it haunted me day and night,” (Poe,