Solving the problem of evil in the twenty-first century

Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart”

Edgar Allan Poe’s short story, “The Tell-Tale Heart,” relays the story of a man who decides to murder his neighbor due to the fact that he is annoyed by the old man’s glassy eye. The image above depicts how after murdering the old man the main character hides his body under his floor board and invites in several police officers who wish to search his home. After committing the crime, he is unable to cope with the guilt and hears incessantly, the old man’s heart beating. He is finally driven so mad as to admit to his own folly. This story is a good example of how human beings are sometimes the best judges of their own character rather than a divine or hellish being and can therefore asses their own punishment for their own crimes. While the character in “The Tell-Tale Heart,” has no problem planning and carrying out his crime, he feels a sense of remorse for the killing afterward and begins to produce the sound of the old man’s heart beating out of his own consciousness. The man claims these sounds to be something he heard along with “all things in the heaven and in the earth. I heard many things in hell…” These noises come from his own sense of guilt and himself being a judge of his own character. This man almost serves as his very own devil figure by tempting himself to commit the crime and then as his own godly figure by haunting himself afterward with the idea of sin and wanting forgiveness or punishment for his crimes. The story manifests the idea that humans can sometimes judge their own character and mistakes through the lenses of guilt and remorse. They can also attend like positions of godliness or hellishness through their own errors or judgments.

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One response

  1. chrismfdaniels

    I feel like before there was Flannery O’Connor there was only Edgar Allen Poe. When re-reading The Cask of Amontillado I’m always amazed at how evil the antagonist is presented as they continue their march into the catacombs. Almost Dante like.

    May 14, 2011 at 9:57 pm

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