This short story, as well as Poe's other works, reveals his upbringing and focuses on sick mothers and guilty fathers.
Gothic literature, the form of the short story, became known in Britain in the 18th century. It delves into the dark side of human experience and there finds death, alienation, nightmares, ghosts and haunted places. It was Poe who brought the literary form to America. American Gothic literature present a culture afflicted by poverty and slavery through characters with various deformities, like insanity and melancholy. He introduced a specific Gothic form from his own experiences in Virginia and other slaveholding territories. His works represent the tensions of the black and white struggle issues of his time. He skillfully writes haunting and mysterious narratives, which cloud the boundary between the real and the imagined.
Character Analysis - in the narrator, Poe posits love and hate as proceeding from the same soul. Poe makes them appear indistinguishable in the narrator's emotions as the emotions actually blend in him. It seemed like Poe anticipated the arrival of the psychoanalytic theories of Sigmund Freud, the Austrian founder of psychoanalysis. Poe and Freud saw love and hate as universal emotions, therefore, taken out of the limitations of time and space. Gothic terror itself is the product of the narrator's simultaneous and blending of self-love and hatred of his rival or opponent. He loves himself, but when feelings of self-hatred rise, he projects the feelings to an imaginary double of himself. In this short story, he admits loving the old man, yet violently kills and dismembers him. Denying his insanity, he actually reveals it when he tried to separate the loved person of the old man from his hated evil, pale blue eyes. It is sheer delusion, because a person cannot be separated from a part of himself without destroying both or all of him. He is not even aware of the contradiction of love and destruction within him.
The narrator commits more than just a cold blood murder. He also reduces the humanity of his victims to the level of animals. He claims to hate and murder the old man for his "vulture eye." He describes it as "pale blue with a film over it (Poe 1983). He tries to justify his actions by indirectly comparing himself with a helpless creature in the hands of a ruthless and hideous scavenger.
In the short story, Poe uses the symbol of the evil eye quite dexterously. The narrator is obsessed with the idea that the old man kept looking at him with his evil eye and casting a curse on him. Yet the narrator cared for this old man. He got torn between his love for him and his hatred for his evil eye. He decided to reconcile these opposing forces within him by extinguishing his life and, in so doing, sparing him from his violent reaction towards his evil eye. The eye is a connection to the outside world. It is also a tool in evaluating the universe. It symbolizes the essence of human identity itself. Yet this human identity cannot be separated from the body of the person without killing or destroying him This is a fact, which did not occur automatically or soon enough in the narrator before he accomplished his heinous task.
Stories of criminal insanity, like "Tell-Tale Heart," feature precise and even ornate diction in the narrator. This technique seemed to have been a serious investment in the confession of a crime as a defense of sanity. The verb tense in Gothic literature of criminal insanity is often in the present time as confessions. The narrator then flashes back on recall past crimes. The person is likewise characteristic of Gothic works. This short story is in the first-person as a main protagonist himself in his struggles with madness and the law. Furthermore, the narrator draws a deep similarity between love and hate, the contest between the self and one's alter ego and the personification of memory after death. Poe uses these features to enhance his message of bloodshed, terror and misery in his fiction.