Edgar Allan Poe encountered the deaths of close loved ones at an early age. Poe’s mother died when he was only three years old, and his father left Poe and his siblings. As a consequence, the children were taken in by different families. Edgar was taken in by John and...
Edgar Allan Poe encountered the deaths of close loved ones at an early age. Poe’s mother died when he was only three years old, and his father left Poe and his siblings. As a consequence, the children were taken in by different families. Edgar was taken in by John and Frances Allan. Although he came to love Frances, he apparently had a difficult time with her husband. The Allans never formally adopted Poe, but he took their last name as his middle name. Frances died in 1829, when Poe was 20. With the death of his foster mother, Poe felt another major loss in his life. He was also somewhat estranged from his foster father by that time, as John Allan did not approve of his chosen profession as a writer.
It seems as if as a result of all the losses he suffered, much of Poe’s writing reflects some level of obsession with the morbid. In “The Tell-Tale Heart,” for instance, the narrator seems to be unstable, which results in his committing murder. Initially, the narrator denies that he is mad. Nevertheless, it is clear from the frenzied tone of the poem that the speaker is increasingly in a state of chaos and frenzy.
The narrator tells us that he “loved the old man,” but the old man’s “pale blue eye, with a film over it” resembled that of a vulture and made his blood run cold “whenever it fell upon” him. Thus, the narrator says,
I made up my mind to take the life of the old man, and thus rid myself of the eye forever.
What is interesting about “The Tell-Tale Heart” is that the speaker takes the life of “the old man.” The reader could infer that this relationship between an older man and younger one is Poe’s projection of his relationship with the two fathers in his life, both of whom disappointed him. His father left his family to be cared for by strangers, and his foster father was cold and distant. In “The Tell-Tale Heart,” perhaps the poet figuratively kills these father figures even though he "loved the old man."