Imagery involves an appeal to the senses, and makes description more vivid to a reader's imagination. In "The Tell-Tale Heart," Edgar Allan Poe reconstructs a murder and its aftermath from the perception of its perpetrator, utilizing imagery to create suspense and convey the crazed insanity of its narrator....
Imagery involves an appeal to the senses, and makes description more vivid to a reader's imagination. In "The Tell-Tale Heart," Edgar Allan Poe reconstructs a murder and its aftermath from the perception of its perpetrator, utilizing imagery to create suspense and convey the crazed insanity of its narrator. We see Poe using both visual and auditory imagery to create this effect.
In "The Tell-Tale Heart," Poe's narrator commits his murder on account of the old man's cataract. The murderer describes it as "the eye of a vulture—a pale blue eye, with a film over it." Later, in a more extensive passage, Poe writes:
It was open—wide, wide open—and I grew furious as I gazed upon it. I saw it with perfect distinctness—all a dull blue, with a hideous veil over it that chilled the very marrow in my bones
By describing the eye in such intensely descriptive terms, Poe conveys the narrator's obsession. He is fixated on this cataract to the point that he will commit murder because of it. This is clearly a disturbed individual, a factor which is also reflected in Poe's description of the crime.
In addition to Poe's use of visual imagery, we also see the invocation of auditory imagery, most notably associated with the old man's heartbeat. We can find this in a passage like the following:
now, I say, there came to my ears a low, dull, quick sound, such as a watch makes when enveloped in cotton. I knew that sound well, too. It was the beating of the old man's heart. It increased my fury, as the beating of a drum stimulates the soldier into courage.
In the very next paragraph, the auditory imagery of the heartbeat continues:
Meantime the hellish tattoo of the heart increased. It grew quicker and quicker, and louder and louder every instant. The old man's terror must have been extreme! It grew louder, I say, louder every moment!
Through his use of imagery, Edgar Allan Poe makes his writing more vivid. This lends itself greatly in creating the story's sense of suspense. In this, its use is critical in instilling the unsettling effect which this story aims to achieve.