Noted from a tell Tale Heart : The Slaying of The Poet

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Thrillers  |  House: Booksie Classic

After reading this epic, I scoured the various analyses for answers of what it could mean. What I would find I’d strongly consider grossly inadequate and a complete misunderstanding of his work. A misunderstanding that would be tantamount to the confusion surrounding the man himself. Even slight understating of Jungian concepts will go a long way

In my humble, yet ardent view of the tale is as follows...

The Tell Tale heart opens by introducing us to the unsteady narrator who I believe represents everyone who finds not only contentment, but total dependence on the darkness that surrounds their view of themselves. I don’t mean an inherently evil darkness, but a kind of more willful obliviousness to areas in our personality that we wish not to acknowledge, areas we hide from others and wish no one to see, especially ourselves. Places we’d rather kill or be killed than integrate into our conscious view. We should examine this poem as if we’re looking through the warped miscreant EyE of this person who projects, since Everything within this piece is told entirely from the perspective of someone whose persona blinds them from complete lucidity, but allows them to remain mostly functional, unless triggered. 


We are then introduced to the other half of this dynamic, who is contrasted nicely against the narrator and plays almost their polar opposite. 


The Old Man and his “vulture” EyE stands as representation for the tribe of folks that have been called Poets, Artists, Prophets, Saints, Truth tellers, and many more. Despite the high number of names, they’ve all had but one single function. This condition called them to see, to judge, and mirror. This EyE to judge serves as a reflection to society. This judgment looks to unearth the meaning in things that some would rather kill or be killed rather than discover what is mined from beneath the surface of what we consciously observe of ourselves. 



This condition is a biological one that the old man cannot help. Some famous examples of this would be MLK Jr, Malcolm X, Fred Hampton, Edgar himself, and the most famous example would be Jesus. A person who offers their report like a mensch journalist whose purpose it is to show civilizations what it doesn’t wish to see about itself. Too often this dynamic in real life as well as this Tale ends with the blood of the truth teller spilled at the hands of those who close their EyE tightly to not see themselves.


With this dynamic well understood that we have not just one EyE we must focus on, but two. The eyes of both protagonists 

One is clear, incorruptible, and precise like that said of a vulture while the other is fuzzy, inconsistent and unscrupulous. To place it plainly, the Narrator projects his shadow on to the Old Man and the Old man then reflects that incorruptible vision right back, which as I said before no one wants to face a naked view of themselves. This intrusive contemplation of critical judgment is what begins to accrue resentment, humiliation, and turmoil within the Narrator. This well of guilt increases as the dark side of his moon casts an abasing, narrowing focus on the light of the old man. 

A decision is then made. The dynamic must be stopped anyway anyhow. 


The great James Baldwin says this in one of his many notes called the Mass Culture and the Creative Artist: Someone once said to me that the people in general cannot bear very much reality. He meant by this they prefer fantasy to a truthful re-creation of their experience.” 


The old man as his function is not just unable to take part in this fantasy, but can’t for the literal life of him keep the truth to himself. 


Baldwin would later write in the same note

“There is a division of labor in the world as I see it- and the people have quite enough reality to bear, simply getting through their lives, raising children, dealing with the eternal conundrums of birth, taxes, and death. They do not do this with all the wisdom, foresight, or charity one might wish; nevertheless this is what they are always doing, and it is what the writer is always describing. There is literally nothing else to describe. This effort at description is itself extraordinarily arduous, and those who are driven to make this effort are by virtue of this fact somewhat removed from the people. It happens, by no means infrequently, that the people hound or stone them to death. They then build statues to them, which does not mean that the next Artist will have it any easier.” 

 After reading this epic, I scoured the various analyses for answers of what it could mean. What I would find I’d strongly consider grossly inadequate and a complete misunderstanding of his work. A misunderstanding that would be tantamount to the confusion surrounding the man himself. 



If after the Old Man was murdered and the Narrator found themselves in the presence of another who saw as the Old one did, then that visionary too would face a similar fate. 


Poe was even brilliant enough to tell the truth at a slant when he spoke of the necessary dehumanizing and reduction to just the judgment when he writes: 

“I resolved to open a little—a very, very little crevice in the lantern. So I opened it—you cannot imagine how stealthily, stealthily——until, at length, a simple dim ray, like the thread of the spider, shot from out the crevice and fell full upon the vulture eye.

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; but I could see nothing else of the old man’s face or person: for I had directed the ray, as if by instinct, precisely upon the damned spot.”


The lantern represents the light of The Narrator’s vision, not just physically, but what he could stand to see. To see anything more would jeopardize the ability to go into a blind rage. 


Poe is able to humanize the Narrator in such a realistic way. I’m confident enough to say we’ve seen countless people who are otherwise levelheaded shift into someThing entirely different when their values, beliefs, or ways of life are placed under the EyE of inquest.


The heart rate of the narrator when in the presence of the Old Man’s judgment, so much so that to the mind of most the only way to cease the judgment is to destroy or even in lesser degree discredit or suppress the judge.


This seemingly unstoppable seed of strife and moral insecurity clashes directly with the Poets' inability to be moved and not cast the report of the ills of society, culminating in the Narrator committing a murder against the Old Man, but he needs to be triggered to do it, you see. He needs to feel the ice run down his spine, in order to have the blind rage to assure the efficacy of the fateful deed, so he waits, until the moment comes when the Old Man places his EyE upon him for the very last time, judging him and seeing him for the last time. As the Old Man’s heart beats no more, the Narrator, at once, can slow the beating of their own heart.


 As his EyE closes forever, the Narrator is at once finally relieved of their judgment, but later in the epic we see as they leap free from the shackles of the insecurity of their truthful judgment into the straight jacket confines of their conscious where they are run mad with guilt that consumes so much of them leaving them the only option that is to confess to a crime that they were undoubtedly going to get away with. Fortunately, the collective do eventually bring themselves to grip with what they’ve done. This crime being the murder, stoning, discrediting, silencing, lynching of the Poets. Inevitably society catches up to those visionaries, they then will have statues built to these that see ahead of their time. The problem is, just as Baldwin put it, that does not make it any easier on the next Artist. Shakespeare writes the immortal line “Stoop, then, and wash. How many ages hence

Shall this our lofty scene be acted over

In states unborn and accents yet unknown!” 


The killing of the old man, the lynching of Jesus, the slaying of the Poets will be repeated over and over, until we beware we are killing the best of us to protect the worst of us from conscious notice.


 This is much more useful than the interpretation(s) that suggest the Narrator is just crazy. This must revolutionize the way we look at this piece, the way we look at the man behind it, and reevaluate how we are to look at ourselves to listen to what the Poet sees and not be fatally afraid of the report that only the Poets are qualified to make. 

Submitted: June 09, 2021

© Copyright 2021 Trindin Wright. All rights reserved.

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