The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe

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In "The Tell-Tale Heart," what might the vulture's eye symbolize?  

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D. Reynolds eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The narrator tries to justify his murder of the old man by blaming it on his "vulture" eye, the old man's staring blue eye covered with a film. The eye creeps the narrator out, and because he describes it as vulture-like, we know he associates the old man with death. He seems to believe that, like a vulture, the old man is waiting for him to die so he can pounce on him and in some way metaphorically devour him. Or perhaps the care-taking the narrator has to provide feels like being devoured.

This assertion of a vulture eye seems, given the context, to be a classic case of psychological...

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dgyair67 | Student

What I got from it was that perhaps the "vulture eye" could be the someone who judges him. Like the hunter who preys on someone and feels of them (Edgar's writing, style of life, etc.)

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emzy12 | Student

Te eye in the story is obviously described as horrible and 'the eye of a vulture.' A vulture is a bird of prey and we usually associate those with death. A vulture also flys high over things, always watching so we could assume that the old man is a parental type character, perhaps a father or a master to the narrator - although we can never be sure. The old man doesn't like being always watched over so he decides to destroy the old man to be rid of this feeling of being trapped by it. However in the end when the police catch up with the narrator it is proven that someone is always watching you.

The eye could also represent a theme for the story - The old man has a hideous, repulsive eye; outwardly, he is ugly. But, as the narrator admits, he is otherwise a harmless, well-meaning person. The narrator, on the other hand, is inwardly ugly and repulsive, for he plans and executes murder; his soul is more repulsive than the old man's eye.   For this reason he is a worse person and in the end doesn't get away with what he has done.

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