Based on your understanding of the theme of the story, what can be inferred about Poe's universal truths? Choose one truth and explain.

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is a very interesting question.  I like the way it’s phrased.  First, let’s take a look at Poe himself.  I have included a biography link below.  Most of Poe’s stories have a creepy element.  Many of them contain themes of insanity and brutality, usually murder.  I have always interpreted Poe to believe this:

We are all on the edge of insanity and brutality.

This is one of Poe’s universal truths.  None of his narrators think of themselves as murders or as insane.  In fact, the narrator of “The Tell Tale Heart” goes out of his way repeatedly to explain that he is not mad, and he had to kill the old man because of his evil eye.  He had nothing against the old man.  This begs the question, would not many of us go crazy or do things that seem brutal if we had no other choice?  We walk a fine line between insanity and brutality.  We all do little mean or crazy things throughout life.  When do we get to the point when they are not little any more, and we are crazy or brutal?

Read the study guide:
The Tell-Tale Heart

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