The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe

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What is the relationship between the narrator and the old man in "The Tell-tale Heart"? My English teacher is convinced that the narrator is the old man's servant, but her explanation why is not very...

What is the relationship between the narrator and the old man in "The Tell-tale Heart"?

My English teacher is convinced that the narrator is the old man's servant, but her explanation why is not very clear, so I'm not so sure. What do you think?

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Jennings Williamson eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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I agree with the other commenter that there is simply no evidence to support the claim that the narrator is the servant of the old man he murders. There is no evidence to deny it either, but I think there is a likelier possibility: that the old man is actually the narrator's father. It is, of course, possible that the pair are simply roommates, but if this is the case, why wouldn't the narrator just leave and find a different place to live with another roommate?

The fact that the narrator calls this other person "old man" signifies their difference in age, and "old man" is often a slang term for a person's father. Further, the narrator says,

Object there was none. Passion there was none. I loved the old man. He had never wronged me. He had never given me insult. For his gold I had no desire.

The narrator's love for the old man makes easy sense if the narrator is the old man's son. Further, the narrator says the old man has never wronged him or insulted him. This makes it sound like their relationship has been of some duration. Finally, the narrator says that he has no...

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litteacher8 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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