Poe's Stories

Poe's Stories

Eyes Symbol Icon
Body parts are obviously part of the gory, gothic nature of Poe’s world, but eyes are especially noticeable as the medallion of many of the haunting figures in the stories. Ligeia is at first known to us by her large, strangely powerful eyes and it is these ‘orbs’ that come back to haunt us at the end. In The Black Cat, it is the cat’s gouged eye that begins the spiral of crime that eventually condemns the narrator. And in The Tell-Tale Heart, without any further explanation of the narrator’s moral opposition to the old man, it is his evil, vulture-like eye that provokes the whole grisly tale. Eyes appear often as part of the other-worldly realm of Poe’s stories and suggest a window to the soul gone-wrong.

Eyes Quotes in Poe's Stories

The Poe's Stories quotes below all refer to the symbol of Eyes. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Rivals and Doppelgangers Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin Classics edition of Poe's Stories published in 2006.
Manuscript Found in a Bottle Quotes

The crew glide to and fro like the ghosts of buried centuries; their eyes have an eager and uneasy meaning; and when their fingers fall athwart my path in the wild glare of the battle-lanterns, I feel as I have never felt before, although I have been all my life a dealer in antiquities, and have imbibed the shadows of Allan columns at Balbec, and Tadmor, and Persepolis, until my very soul has become a ruin.

Related Characters: Narrator (M.S. Found in a Bottle) (speaker)
Related Symbols: Eyes
Page Number: 19
Explanation and Analysis:

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Ligeia Quotes

They were, I must believe, far larger than the ordinary eyes of our own race. They were even fuller than the fullest of the gazelle eyes of the tribe of the valley of Nourjahad. Yet it was only at intervals – in moments of intense excitement – that this peculiarity became more than slightly noticeable in Ligeia.

Related Characters: Narrator (Ligeia) (speaker), Ligeia
Related Symbols: Eyes
Page Number: 113
Explanation and Analysis:

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The Murders in the Rue-Morgue Quotes

The modes and sources of this kind of error are well typified in the contemplation of the heavenly bodies. To look at a star by glances -- to view it in a side-long way, by turning toward it the exterior portions of the retina (more susceptible of feeble impressions of light than the interior), is to behold the star distinctly -- is to have the best appreciation of its lustre -- a lustre which grows dim just in proportion as we turn our vision fully upon it.

Related Characters: Narrator (The Murders in the Rue Morgue; The Purloined Letter) (speaker)
Related Symbols: Eyes
Page Number: 252
Explanation and Analysis:

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The Tell-Tale Heart Quotes

I loved the old man. He had never wronged me. He had never given me insult. For his gold I had no desire. I think it was his eye! yes, it was this! He had the eye of a vulture.

Related Characters: Narrator (The Tell-Tale Heart) (speaker), The Old Man
Related Symbols: Eyes
Page Number: 187
Explanation and Analysis:

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The Black Cat Quotes

I took from my waistcoat-pocket a pen-knife, opened it, grasped the poor beast by the throat, and deliberately cut one of its eyes from the socket! I blush, I burn, I shudder, while I pen the damnable atrocity.

Related Characters: Narrator (The Black Cat) (speaker), The Black Cat (speaker)
Related Symbols: Eyes
Page Number: 194
Explanation and Analysis:

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Eyes Symbol Timeline in Poe's Stories

The timeline below shows where the symbol Eyes appears in Poe's Stories. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Ligeia
The Dead and the Living Theme Icon
The Gothic Style Theme Icon
Self, Solitude, and Consciousness Theme Icon
The Power of Memory Theme Icon
...Greek Goddesses to the narrator. But one aspect shines above the rest – Ligeia’s large eyes. (full context)
The Dead and the Living Theme Icon
The Gothic Style Theme Icon
These eyes are larger than human eyes usually are – there is something animal about them. They... (full context)
The Dead and the Living Theme Icon
The Gothic Style Theme Icon
Self, Solitude, and Consciousness Theme Icon
The Power of Memory Theme Icon
...the most thrilling human feelings. He has felt this way about the expression of Ligeia’s eyes. Sometimes an image will come to his mind that is an exact analogy for the... (full context)
The Dead and the Living Theme Icon
The Gothic Style Theme Icon
The Power of Memory Theme Icon
...calm but has outbursts of temper like no other, and at these moments, her large eyes became huge and her voice took on a melodious, powerful energy. (full context)
The Dead and the Living Theme Icon
The Gothic Style Theme Icon
Self, Solitude, and Consciousness Theme Icon
...lost child. As illness took her strength away, she read less and her once wild eyes grew dim. The narrator knew that she was about to die and struggled to reckon... (full context)
Rivals and Doppelgangers Theme Icon
The Dead and the Living Theme Icon
The Gothic Style Theme Icon
Self, Solitude, and Consciousness Theme Icon
The Power of Memory Theme Icon
...that enshrouds her, letting loose raven-colored hair, and then revealing a pair of large, wild eyes. The narrators shrieks. It is Ligeia. (full context)
The Fall of the House of Usher
The Dead and the Living Theme Icon
The Gothic Style Theme Icon
The Power of Memory Theme Icon
...see that the man is completely changed, has become very pale and thin and his eyes have a strange luster. Usher's features are so fearful that the narrator doesn’t even recognize... (full context)
The Tell-Tale Heart
Rivals and Doppelgangers Theme Icon
The Dead and the Living Theme Icon
The Gothic Style Theme Icon
Self, Solitude, and Consciousness Theme Icon
...was a strange feature of the old man he lives with, that one of his eyes was different from the other and had an evil, vulture-like appearance, which convinced him to... (full context)
Rivals and Doppelgangers Theme Icon
The Dead and the Living Theme Icon
The Gothic Style Theme Icon
...he opens the shutter of the lantern so that a single ray falls on the eye. Every night, he is annoyed to find the eye closed, because it is its stare... (full context)
Rivals and Doppelgangers Theme Icon
The Dead and the Living Theme Icon
The Gothic Style Theme Icon
Self, Solitude, and Consciousness Theme Icon
...shutter a tiny bit and emits a ray upon the man, and sees that the eye is open! The narrator's old fury is stirred at the sight. The narrator reminds us... (full context)
The Black Cat
Rivals and Doppelgangers Theme Icon
The Dead and the Living Theme Icon
The Gothic Style Theme Icon
Self, Solitude, and Consciousness Theme Icon
...is ashamed to write it, he attacked the cat and gouged out one of his eyes with a quill pen. (full context)
Rivals and Doppelgangers Theme Icon
The Dead and the Living Theme Icon
The Gothic Style Theme Icon
Self, Solitude, and Consciousness Theme Icon
The Power of Memory Theme Icon
...also hates a particular coincidental feature of the cat: that it too only has one eye, though this only endears the cat to his wife. As the narrator’s loathing for the... (full context)