Edgar Allen Poe depiction of human nature

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Human nature encompasses the natural human tendencies for thinking, feeling, and acting as well as the traits that are unique to particular cultures and upbringings. Edgar Allan Poe portrays human nature in his works of art in a variety of ways.

The narrator of The Tell-Tale Heart declares at the beginning of the tale that he adored the old man and had never done him wrong. (Sweeney). Later on, he describes how he became fixated on the elderly man's "vulture eye," which was a pale blue eye with a film covering it. This brings out what the narrator felt since he is human and has feelings, it depicts human nature.

In The Tell-Tale Heart, the narrator without any reasons decides to take the life of the old man, this being majorly due to his mental disorder, as he had said that he loved the old man. Human nature is depicted here in that we as humans can at sometimes be mentally disturbed and cause damages to the people we love and care about (Sweeney).

In The Black Cat, the narrator is known for his humanitarian considerations of animals and people as he had so many different kinds of pets, this shows his human nature as he cares for the pets and loves them too, it is apparently evident in the story; he also names his cat as Pluto (Tsokanos). It is in human nature to call a pet as it shows love and care which we humans have and that which Edgar Allan Poe depicts in his work.

In The Tell-Tale Heart, the narrator on the eighth night decided it was the time that he committed the act, meaning he had planned on it already, which in human nature it’s normal to expect something and act on it (Sweeney). The narrator says ‘I fairly chuckled at the idea.' This is done within the confines of the old man’s small bedroom. It depicts human nature.

In The Black Cat, the narrator grew day by day moodier, more irritable, more regardless of the feelings of others, these shows that the narrator underwent some changes even if it was partly on alcohol, but his personality did change and was almost becoming insane at any moment (Tsokanos). This shows that humans tend to change emotions and it’s normal to be moody at times.

In The Black Cat, when the narrator came back home drunk he imagined that his cat was avoiding him and grasped it by the throat and with a penknife cut out one of its eyes. It is in human nature to get angered and show your anger in any way that one is used to, maybe to the narrator due to alcohol he showed his violence in such a way; this shows human nature but not all act this way.

In The Black Cat, the narrator tries to battle with alcoholism as this makes him commit acts which he does not like, as it shows the depths of the flaws in the human spirit. Alcohol causes the narrator violent against his pets and wife after he pulls out Pluto’s eye he feels guilty of what he has done and later on becomes angry which is human nature to feel guilty and be angry (Tsokanos). This shows human life as it is common for us humans to get angry and feel guilty of our deeds just as the narrator did.

In The Black Cat, focusing on the conflict between man and nature, this would, in turn, bring out human life as the narrator gets confused and is guilt-ridden that he sees the cats as his enemies. It is common to human to see an animal as an enemy depending on what the animal has done which we humans perceive as wrong, yet the animal can’t see (Tsokanos). The second cat revealing the murder of his wife made the narrator to see it as an enemy, thus depicting human nature.

In The Black Cat, the conflict between man and man reveals human nature as it is in human life to see his fellow human as an enemy and feel angered by his fellow human. The narrator mostly taking out his anger and drunken violence to his wife, she tries to stop him from killing the black and the white cat bearing in mind that she did love animals too, this angers the narrator leading him to kill his wife (Tsokanos). This being a conflict though too violent depicts human nature as humans get angry and put that on something.

In The Black Cat, the story revolves around wickedness, as it is clear that many of the narrator’s acts lack motivation as they are mainly acts of evil. The narrator beating up his wife that leads to her death just because she tried to stop him from killing the two cats shows an act of wickedness, and cutting one of the cat's eyes with a penknife shows an act of evil (Tsokanos). Human beings are not naturally wicked, but wickedness does depict human nature as most of the humans do nasty things, though not an essential quality of human life.

In The Tell-Tale Heart, the story majorly revolves around paranoia. The narrator himself admits that he is dreadfully nervous and is unable to justify his sanity; he does not take it as a roof of madness but as sanity (Sweeney). The narrator being paranoid is a quality of human nature, though not all humans are that paranoid, it depicts rational view.

In The Tell-Tale Heart, there is a contradiction between the narrator’s levels of love and hate, here Poe shows us how people at times harm those whom they love or those that they need in their lives. The narrator loves the old man and is not greedy for his wealth; he, therefore, comes up with motives that can inspire such a violent act, he sees the old man’s eye as an evil eye and wants to separate it from the man, thus killing the old man (Sweeney). This depicts human nature in that we humans come along contradiction of love and hate and never know where to fall as we view things differently.

In The Tell-Tale Heart, the narrator is seen to be full of guilt, he tries to justify his sanity, but this leads to self-destruction as he tries to prove his sanity. He admits that he is guilty of murder as he had murdered the old man without motive; he says ‘the idea of murder haunted me day and night.' This shows that it is of human nature to feel guilty of the wrong he has committed, thus a quality of human life.

In The Cask of Amontillado, Montresor vows to revenge on Fortunato, who has injured him severally and did insult him too. Montressor could not stand anymore as he promised to avenge on Fortunato. Montressor plans on various ways in which he can revenge and not let Fortunato know of his hatred towards him, he expects it in a way that he does not want to be discovered (Baraban, Elena V.). This shows a quality in human nature that is revenge, even though it is not appropriate but does depict human nature (Baraban, Elena V.).

In The Cask of Amontillado, Fortunato who insults Montresor does so showing it is of human nature to offend someone, as we are told that Montresor plans to revenge because of the insults he received from Fortunato. The entire story is all about the abuse from Fortunato which makes Montresor plan revenge on him (Baraban, Elena V.). It is of human nature to insult, thus from what we see in “The Cask of Amontillado” the insults are just as a result of human life; this depicts rational view.


Human nature including one’s ways of thinking, feeling and acting which humans do have naturally is adequately brought out by Edgar Allan Poe in his short stories. The narrators and characters in his short stories show great qualities of human nature. Thus The Tell-Tale Heart, The Black Cat and The Cask of Amontillado show conditions of human life.

Works cited

Sweeney. "The Horror Of Taking A Picture In Poe's “Tell-Tale Heart”." The Edgar Allan Poe Review, vol 18, no. 2, 2017, p. 142. The Pennsylvania State University Press, doi:10.5325/edgallpoerev.18.2.0142.

Tsokanos. "“The Black Cat” Revisited: A Prolegomenon To Poe's Greek Imitators." The Edgar Allan Poe Review, vol 18, no. 2, 2017, p. 183. The Pennsylvania State University Press, doi:10.5325/edgallpoerev.18.2.0183.

Baraban, Elena V. "The Motive For Murder In "The Cask Of Amontillado" By Edgar Allan Poe." Rocky Mountain Review Of Language And Literature, vol 58, no. 2, 2004, p. 47. JSTOR, doi:10.2307/1566552.

June 19, 2023


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