How does Edgar Allan Poe use dreams to portray terror and mirror the narrator’s sense of reality

Edgar Allan Poe was a writer during the 1800’s and was wellknown for his poems and short stories (biography.com editors). With his use of horror and mystery, Poe was the father of the detective fiction story (biography.com editors). In many of his short stories, the lines between life and reality are seen to be blurry, especially after his death in 1849 (biography.com editors).

During the late 1830’s, Poe published his first collection of short stories, the Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque. “The Fall of the House of Usher and The Pit and the Pendulum were two of the many short stories published within the collection.

Within these two short stories, and many of his other ones, Poe uses terror to tell the tale. As he was writing, Poe was informed of many instances that were real life situations; he used these situations to tell his stories about them through a more fictional mindset. For example, Poe used James Campbell Usher and Agnes Pye Ushersons of an actor who had previously performed with his motherto tell the story “The Fall of the House of Usher (Semtner). In the beginning of the story, the narrator visits the Usher house to visit his childhood friend, Roderick Usher. Roderick’s sister has become ill with a very mysterious disease. She later then dies and is buried in a room of the house. Roderick confesses to the narrator that he has been hearing strange sounds and is afraid that he has buried his sister alive. As his fears are confirmed, Madeline, his sister, stands in the doorway and attacks her brother. Roderick dies of fear as the narrator quickly flees from the property. The reallife usher twins were believed to have been insane; this is where Edgar Allan Poe’s inspiration for this specific story has come. He also used historical events, such as the Spanish Inquisition, and based The Pit and the Pendulum off of it. Pope Gregory IX called on the Inquisition to rid out the heretics in Europe. If the heretics did not want to confess to their crime, they were tortured until they did so. If they completely refused to confess, they were imprisoned and burned at the stake; the same goes for if they were guilty. Spanish leaders King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella asked the Pope’s permission to remove all individuals who were not catholic to purify the people of Spain (Semtner). In Edgar Allan Poe’s story, he writes the story of an individual telling his story of being convicted for heresy. He is brought into a chamber instead of being publicly prayed for and convicted and realizes he is not in a good situation. Although these stories are based on real – life events, Edgar Allan Poe is still able to make these stories dreamlike. By doing so, he portrays horror and uses them to mirror the narrator’s sense of reality.

The anonymity of the first – person narration in The Pit and the Pendulum creates a fuzzy and gloomydream – likeeffect which helps the story come off as more terrifying. For example, during the Inquisition, heretics were tortured to death or tortured until they confessed. This was, no doubt, a horrifying experience for all individuals that were put through the trials. This is expressed when the narrator explains the judges’ lips to be whiter than the sheet upon which [he] traces [the] words and thin even to grotesqueness (Poe 3). When the narrator goes on to explain how [he] saw them fashion the syllables of [his] name, the audience can then see that when his name leaves the judges’ lips, it sounds as lifeless as he perceives their lips to be with the words white and thin to the point of disgust. Later, during the time of his trial, he asks himself, Yet what business had I with hope? (Poe 14). This reveals the obvious sense of hopelessness the speaker now has for his well – being and his thoughts on the chances that he has of making it out of the situation alive. The use of the unnamed narrator allows for any individual to be placed in the narrator’s position. This then helps the reader realize that Poe is using this story to imitate the fears and terror of any individual that was victim to the inquisition, especially with the use of the words I and my repeatedly.

In The Fall of the House of Usher, the anonymous speaker also tells his story in a first – person narration. In this short story, the effect of anonymous first – person narration allows the speaker to be present during the occurrence or situation, but not all the way physically there. For example, Roderick Usher is very upset that his sister has fallen terribly ill; the illness eventually leads to her death. After they buried her, an observable change came over the features of the mental disorder of [his] friend (Poe 18). The reader can also see the that his friend has beheld him gazing upon vacancy for long hours, in an attitude of the profoundest attention, as if listening to some imaginary sound (Poe 18). Here, the speaker is seen to be an observer, almost as if watching Roderick Usher behind a glass wall. There is also the instance as to where the narrator put his hand on his friend’s shoulder and [the narrator] saw that he spoke in a low, hurried, and gibbering murmur, as if unconscious of my presence (Poe 24). This brings attention to the fact that the narrator really has no effect on Roderick Usher, making it seem as if he is not really present; he is just an observer. This is also seen throughout the multiple instances in which the narrator made an effort to lighten Usher’s mood after the death of his sister by telling him a story, etc., but this has no effect on him. Lastly, when Madeline appears behind the door, covered in blood and the evidence of some bitter struggle upon every portion of her emaciated frame, the narrator becomes fearful of the angry girl (Poe 25). Instead of her acknowledging him, she walks right past him, as if he is not there in the first place, and [falls] heavily inward upon the person of her brother, and in her violent and now final death – agonies, bore him to the floor a corpse (Poe 25). One would think that she would be angry at both individuals for burying her alive, but she just kills her brother, instead of killing the narrator too. This makes it seem as if he was only metaphysically present, creating the dream like aspect of the role of the narrator. The ability of the narrator to first handedly experience the situation creates the terror.

In The Pit and the Pendulum and The fall of the House of Usher, Poe uses personification to create a dreamy effect which, in turn, creates a more terrorizing environment and allows the audience to understand the narrator’s sense of reality. To begin, in The Pit and the Pendulum, the speaker talks about seven tall candles that seemed as if they were white slender angles who would save [him] (Poe 3,4). This right away represents that the narrator is looking for a resolution in this unreal and terrifying situation. The hope for a dream like resolution to his terrifying situation reveals to the reader that is not able to process the fate of which his life faces. Throughout his tortuous stay in this dungeon, at one point, the speaker is introduced to an endless pit. In the centre yawned the circular pit from whose jaws I had escaped (Poe 11). The use of the word yawned indicated that the circumference of this pit must have been very large. Adding on to this, the use of the word jaw and using the word yawned to describe it allows to reader to understand that the narrator makes this pit out to be a monster trying to devour him. After the speaker has avoided the pit, he later finds himself tied up with a sharp, swinging pendulum slowly descending from the ceiling. It is lined up to slice horizontal of his heart. The whole [pendulum] hissed as it swung through the air (Poe 13). Again, Poe uses the word hissed making this object seem like it is an animal trying to kill the narratorthis is seen in the previous example of the pendulum. Again, he tells the audience that that pendulum swept so closely over [him] as to fan [him] with its acrid breath (Poe 13). Using the word acrid to describe the breath or the wind coming from the pendulum swinging suggests that the narrator does not want it getting any close, but in this situation, he cannot really help that. . As the narrator describes the hissing vigor of [the pendulum’s] descent, the reader can see the reference again to the pendulum being thought of as some kind of angry animal trying to get to the narrator and harm him (Poe 14). As the speaker is contemplating death, he realizes that It was hope that whispers to the death – condemned even in the dungeons of the inquisition (Poe 15). This is the first time since the speaker has been held captive that he brings up hope. Although the hope whispers he realizes that there is still a chance to escape this possibility of death. The personification allows for an unreal mindset of the narrator to be portrayed. Poe uses the personification to, not only create more terror and reveal what the narrator thought about the situation, but to make the situation more relatable so every reader can feel the terror those individuals were feeling throughout the Inquisition.

Although there is not much personification in The Fall of the House of Usher, there is still some that allows for the creation of terror and the mirroring of the narrator’s sense of reality. The observation of the vacant and eye – like windows suggests that the house has seen the fall of the Usher family, as the windows are vacant and the house is now mostly empty (Poe 3). The repetition of that the vacant and eye – like windows suggest that the house itself is alive and is awaitingforeshadowingthe events that are to come. Also, the narrator realizes the hideous dropping off of the veil (Poe 3). This emphasizes the appearance in the narrator’s eyes as disappointing and nasty. Through the use of personification, Poe uses this to symbolize the presence of an evil force. The personification allows the house to seem unrealdreamlike. This helps to create and setup the terror in the beginning and also shows the reader perception of actuality.

The surrealism in The Pit and the Pendulum also helps create the dreamy effect. The author has been tortured to an extent to which he feels disconnected from his physical self. He opens with, I WAS sicksick unto death with that long agony; and when they at length unbound me, and I was permitted to sit, I felt that my senses were leaving me (Poe 1). This suggests that the narrator has been through such a traumatic experience that he cannot tell the difference between what is real and what is not real. For example, when the judges are saying his name, he shuddered because no sound succeeded (Poe 3). Also, when he speaks of seven tall candles being white slender angles reveals to the reader that the speaker is on the brink of insanity. Again, he cannot hear or see things correctly because he cannot perceive reality correctly. This is because the hope he had for being found innocent had been crushed when he was found guilty and given the death penalty, hence why he could not hear a sound.

In The Pit and the Pendulum, Edgar Allan Poe uses echoes to create terror. This is first seen when the narrator trips and falls, almost making his way into the endless pit in the floor of the room of the dungeon. As a small piece of debris falls into the pit, there is the sound of it hitting the water, and it is succeeded by loud echoes (Poe 9). Using this, Poe brings out a dreamy effect which also creates terror. In this case. The echo represents the emptiness of the well; the amount of them represents the deepness. This creates terror in possible ways that the narrator could fall in at any second, or that he did almost fall in. Considering that the room is very dark at this point, it is very possible for him to fall in, which would be very frightening. In The Fall of the House of Usher, the echo takes places when Madeline is mimicking the sounds from the book that the narrator is reading. This is dreamy in fact because it does not seem realthe narrator does not know how these sounds are repeatedly being produced every time he speaks of one. This also suggests the presence of evil which, in turn, creates a feeling of terror.

Many of Edgar Allan Poe’s short stories are based off of real – life events. This being said, the way that he incorporates the dream like effect in each of his writing allows the possibility of more horror and terror to take place in the audience’s mind as they read. His use of personification suggests that the narrator perceives a more unreal situation than what is taking place; this makes it more terrifying to the audience in ways that it becomes more reliable considering the different characteristics he is allowing these things in the story to have. The use of surrealism in The Pit and the Pendulum suggests that the reader is going insane and cannot tell the different between reality and a deception. This also creates terror because it allows the reader to realize the horror the narrator has been through to make him think like he does. Lastly, he uses echoes in order to create a sense of emptiness to emphasize the fact that there is a horrifying truth waited to be revealed. Edgar Allan Poe’s use of dreams in his short stories allows the reader to feel more connected to what the narrator feels and allows them to feel more strongly about it.

“Fall of the House of Usher” by Edgar Allan Poe

It all started when I was informed about this paper I was trying to think of a movie I have watched a hundred times and loved. I thought I have seen Saving Private Ryan tons of times and love it but I decided to ask my media major friends what would be a good film that people hardly know. They had hundred of ideas but this one stuck out because I like horror movies.So one night we had a big film fest and watched it with a whole lot of other movies.

I enjoyed and now I will go over the film of the Fall of the House of Usher. While watching the film and analyzing and the film, I noticed I was looking to primarily the supernatural horror is possessed. Supernatural horror has and still plays a major role in film and in literature. H.P. Lovecraft mentions psychologist will dispute and their admitted truth must establish for all time genuineness and dignity of the weirdly horrible tale as a literary form, which I regarded this to Poe. Poe is notorious for his literary style being on the Gothic horror themed side, making anything he writes creepy and unnerving. The Fall of the House of Usher is one piece of literary work that is constantly looked at by not only film-makers, but also with students, and many artist. The Fall of The House of Usher is engaging and captivating for many individuals around. For me, looking at Poe, it was an eye opening film and watching something that I’ve just started like and but helps me gain a better understanding what Poe was actually portraying in his work.

In Robert Giordano’s words (pg 1) Poe’s short story, The Fall of the House of Usher, Poe tells a story about a person, just the narrator and his friend Roderick, who is dying of an illness. Poe’s description of the house, emphasis the gothic nature of the story and his imagery of the sounds in the house show a depressing mood. The crack in the house at the beginning shows how unstable the living is and foreshadows the destruction of the house at the end. We find out later that Roderick’s sister, Madeline, has a more severe illness that is causing her to die. I believe that it’s more of mental illness that drives Madeline insane causing everyone to believe that she is sick. Madeline soon dies due to insanity from the lack of oxygen from being buried alive by her brother. The house makes sounds while the narrator tells the story and Roderick believes that Madeline is actually alive and making these sounds. Madeline bursts through the door trying to murder her own brother from the mental illness. In shock, both Roderick and Madeline collapse to the floor to their death. The narrator flees the house and then the house fragments into two. Edgar Allan Poe uses imagery and description to convey the gothic emotion of his life and the lives around him in this story.

When I first started to learn about Poe and his works, I didn’t quite understand the storyline until now that I’ve gained a better understanding. The supernatural and horror elements of the horror genre is what is focused most on, in not only film but in also in literature. The horror genre produces a lot of elements and techniques that help someone understand and ‘live’ within the text. From the color scheme, to the sounds and even to the details that go into the literature work to make it to another form of art.

Supernatural horror is unlike other genres out there. In spite of the gothic tradition in the supernatural horror literature was designed to inspire fear. Opening our minds to the supernatural genre opens the psychological process that becomes a coping mechanism. It becomes our escape. We create a world of fantasy that becomes a ‘safe haven’ in some instances but also creates a dangerous and dark world. Sometimes people fall under the category of the dark world and take things a little to far. It’s a mechanism that most children use because they don’t know what’s actually creating the creepy sounds in their room late at night. This mechanism Poe studied to create such graphic details and horrific stories and yet, it worked for him.

Gothic traditions in films help depict a more realistic journey for the human minds. It’s almost as if the reader and/or the viewer is part of the story. I feel like the Gothic style in film is probably one of the most important styles in writing because it combines many other genre elements such as romance, superstition or supernatural, and so forth. The Fall of The House of Usher holds many of these elements and is among Poe’s most regarded pieces of literature but the film is just as good.

Studying the human mind allows for the human connection to be deeper. It also allows for something to seem more real when being studied. It’s easier to produce work that taps into the emotion of the human mind. Poe studied the human mind in madness and insanity. As studying The Fall of The House of Usher, I came to the realization that Roderick is actually insane and also makes his sister Madeline go insane by making her believe that the house is actually full of demons. The decor and color scheme all throughout the house made it seem that way as well because the reds and blacks gave it an uneasy feeling and could make someone go insane.

The Fall of The House of Usher is complexly written with themes identifying horror, identity, gothic and the supernatural. Poe utilises Gothic traditions within the colorscheme, the elements within the supernatural and also in the setting. He also uses metaphors to serve as objects within the story. These metaphors allow us to create a image in our head to make a clearer sense of the story.

The Usher house was very much alive by absorbing Rodericks mental and physical health. All throughout the film, it was easily noted that the house seemed alive. The house knew there was an guest and felt threatened by that guest, so in return, the house caused problems for said guest. Anytime the guest would wonder about the house, the house would fall apart trying to murder him that way the house could finish off the Ushers. Poe foreshadowed the paradox of Roderick’s fear very early in the story by having fear of fear itself. Meaning Roderick was not scared of death itself rather he was scared of fear which, so happens, to lead to his death when Madeline ‘returns from the dead’ and scares him to death right before her actual death. This relates to when I talked about the candles. The last candle lit represents the fall of the house and the Usher fate.

The theme, however, is subtle. Most people who watch films sometimes can’t grasp what the theme is. In The Fall of the House of Usher, the color palette used is very restricted. Apart from an ominous red light, and the red blood on the clothes of Usher’s sister at her final appearance, whites, greys, and blacks, all symbolic of a lack of life and health. Each color in the film was utilized and represented something. For the most part the colors represented the darker horror, supernatural theme of the story. There was only one color that did not represent the horror or supernatural feel. I did feel the color served as an important part of the story. The color is blue. Blue represented Phillip, it represented peace, purity, positivity and kindness.

In, In Point : sound effects, as I said before, can be used to heightened a mood by creating a soundscape that accents another layer of meaning to the images on the screen. Pitch, tempo, and volume may be altered to indicate how the the narrator expects the audience to respond to a given noise. For instance, high-pitched sounds, the screams from Madeline, create a sense of anxiety and terror, while low-pitched sounds, including the sound of the scratching of Madeline’s nails against the coffin, can be used to create a sense of mystery.

Perhaps the most interesting use of sound in a movie is the very absence of it: silence. At key points of The Fall of the House of Usher, the director may chose silence in much the same way that they would use a freeze frame. Both tend to arrest the audience’s attention to highlight some action or change in story direction. Silence can be used to build up a scene’s intensity foreshadow. The sound and music in the background made the house feel creepier. There is this one specific sound I can’t get out of my head because I believe it represented the house falling apart and something bad was soon about to happen.

I mentioned the use of metaphors in the text earlier in the essay. In Elements of Cinema (pg. 1-4), metaphors are considered to be common in The Fall of the House of Usher. One of the biggest metaphors that struck out to me was the usage of color. Red was a key component within the text. It was used for a lot. Roderick wore red to represent himself as one half of the twins, red also represents the negativity attacks from the house upon Phillip, the anger, the agony, and so forth. The one that struck out to me most was when Roderick said one candle left to burn before the darkness comes. He said this right after Madeline appears to be dead. When he said this I thought that this was a metaphor on his life.

In Kashiss, Truth Film, another major element, if not part of the symbol, is the execution of the symbol, the way it is presented in the film. Sometimes in clear view and sometimes it’s hard to find. In The Fall of the House of Usher, candles were present all the time, all over the house. If you show it in a random context it means nothing. The candle’s were all throughout the house and they were red for the most part. Roderick lit one of the candles when he said one candle left to burn before the darkness comes, the more I think about it the more I believe that the candles represented the Usher family, life and insanity. Roderick had buried his sister alive and knew that very soon insanity would consume Madeline and end up leading to her actual death. I know that Roderick was insane for doing that, however the last candle was a representation of his life. He knew that he would be the last Usher of the house to die. Shortly after lighting the last candle, Madeline, corrupted by insanity, attacked him and ultimately lead to his death. The house at the same town was surrounded by darkness and was consumed by the earth. It was as if the Usher house never existed after it was consumed.

Poe tend to work in the dark. He wanted to get to know his surroundings to understand the the horror supernatural feels. I keep thinking about a supernatural occurrence that happened several times throughout the film. The portraits on the walls of Rodericks family not only were unnerving feeling but also made the supernatural and insanity in Roderick real. Just looking at the portraits would make someone insane. They were painted red for the most part however, around the eyes it was black creating a dark shadow and an unnerving feeling.

According Moriah Mayhew (pg 1), H.P. Lovecraft identified and understood Poe differently than what most would normally understand. Lovecraft simply dug deeper and found true meaning behind Poe’s artistic style. Lovecraft believed that Poe’s work was one of the first to bring in the realism of storytelling in a systematic expression. Poe made his pieces of literature so real. Not just The Fall of The House of Usher but also in The Raven. Poe became a very respected author for his writings being different from other creations by other well respected authors however, other authors are taught to do so whereas Poe was insane himself and created pieces of work depicted in his mind. Lovecraft state More particular qualities appear to be derived from the psychology of Poe himself, who certainly possessed much of the depression, sensitiveness, mad aspiration, loneliness, and extravagant freakishness which he attributes to his haughty and solitary victims of Fate, represents his artistic literature pieces. He sorta gave insight to the world that not many know of.

In conclusion, looking at H.P. Lovecraft’s Supernatural Horror in Literature allowed for me to understand Poe in a way I thought I could never understand. Poe was an insane man who created great pieces of literature using his darker personality in his choices on his style of writing. This worked for him because it not only made him a well rounded author but also made him a well respected author. I think Poe studying the psychological view of the human minds allowed for him to be a great writer and a great influencer to the eye.

Gothic Atmosphere in “The Fall of the House of Usher”

Edgar Allan Poe stands alone with an unparalleled style of writing and aesthetic taste he adds to his literary work. His literary theories and creative techniques are totally different from the mainstream literature work written during his times. Poe adopted Gothic technique in the composition of one of his most famous stories, The Fall of The House of Usher.

Gothic genre involves the use of supernaturalism, mysterious occurrences, and strange characters and settings. In this tale, Poe presents a terrifying atmosphere, psychological horrors, and dark plot that often characterizes Gothic literature. The nouns, verbs, and descriptions used are gloomy and suspenseful which creates a scary and foreboding mood to the readers. There is much more evidence of incorporation of Gothic fiction in the story. Thesis statement: Poe adopted a Gothic style in his short story The Fall of The House of Usher Poe incorporated several elements which are associated with Gothic literature in The Fall of The House of Usher. According to Merriam-Webster.com, gothic stories are romantic tales of terror and the supernatural, which rely greatly on setting, and the scene to convey a sense of horror to the readers.

Through this story, Poe makes a great contribution to Gothic fiction which had been pioneered some years before his time. Poe utilizes Gothic literary style to convey images, ideas, and effects. Gothic stories are usually set in extremely old structures and in very isolated places. They are scary and suspenseful with sounds that are far from normal, often have flying creatures, cobwebs, and darkness. The fiction in Gothic wants you to believe there is nothing to fear. It wakes up the terror in their soul and turns it into a pleasant experience. The readers are petrified by the mixture of horror and pleasure entering their soul. Wenfang Pang et al. supports the idea that Gothicism can be used to induce fear to the audience and convey a particular theme in the tale. These authors argue that Gothic elements such as violence, murder, insanity, and collapse are used to establish mood and foreshadow future events (17). In The Fall of The House of Usher, Poe attempts to scare readers with unexpected noises and uses gothic descriptions to introduce the setting of the story. The unnamed narrator explains the prevailing situation when arriving at the house as a dark and soundless day near the end of the year, and clouds were hanging low… (Poe 90). He then explains what he observes on his first sight of the building. I looked at the scene before methe bleak walls, vacant eye-like windows and a few white trunks of decayed trees… (Poe 90). The narrator reveals that he was filled with sense of heavy sadness (90) in his spirit on looking at the building. He is disheartened that he was going to spend many weeks in this house of sadness (Poe 95).

The narrator discovers that the walls of the building had fallen and the stones appear to be decaying. The color of the house is almost gone and mold covers the whole outside. On the inside of the building is even worse than outside. On entering the building, the narrator realizes that everything was eerie starting from the blackness of the floors to the dark wall coverings which makes him remember some so long forgotten wars (Poe 102). The darkness of the mansion is described by using words like decaying, vacant and dark. The black and gloomy that surrounds the house is an invitation to a special kind of death that may occur in the future. Despite the horrifying condition of the house, the narrator has no choice but to honor the invitation of his old friend who has suffered a mental disorder. Isolation is another Goptic element which Poe incorporated in the story. The mansion is apart from the world outside and so are the people. The house symbolizes living in intermediary space between the real world of living and underworld, and possession of evil motives (Pang 15). It is unusual that Roderick invites the narrator to his home at all. In fact, it only through the visit that he learns that his old childhood friend is sick. It seems they have never contacted each other since they last met. The isolation appears to have contributed a lot to the decay of his home and family name.

The narrator realizes the Roderick and his sister Madeline are in an intense state of depression and both appear sickly. The narrator tries to make Roderick and Madeline feel better, but he never succeeds. Isolation and the nature of their house appear to have contributed to their sickness. Roderick himself even suggests that the house might be the one making him sick. Roderick and Madeline have been placed in death trap inside the mansion and cannot easily get away from it. One display of isolation in the text is the description of the Usher family’s lineage in which the narrator states that the entire family lay in the direct line of descentwith very trifling and very temporary variation (Poe 159). The Usher family appears to have been isolating themselves from the rest of the people as evident in Roderick and Madeline’s choice to live alone in a secluded place. The house also carried a sense of isolation in the way the narrator describes it. with the narrow windows and hard to escape. There is also a heavy presence of melancholy throughout the room suggesting a sense of darkness and confinement. The greatest display of the way Madeline is entombed in the basement of the building after she appears to be dead. Being buried alive is an ultimate representation of fear and desolation. Whether she was buried dead or alive, the underlying matter was that Madeline never received a decent burial. The matter seems to have been crippled by the fact the Usher has only a few friends.

The fear of burring Madeline alive causes Roderick to descend further into a deep state of depression and eventually to his death. Long Diane Hoeveler in her article titled The Hidden God and The Abjected Woman in ‘The Fall of The House of Usher,’ confirms the idea that the isolation in The Fall of The House of Usher is an element of Gothicism that characterizes the majority of Poe’s works. She terms Roderick and Madeline as a male/female couple who.no longer believes in themselves because they understand the fictional nature of both history and religion (388). She claims that the sense of isolation caused Roderick and Madeline to descend depression, and on, and they now have energy to self-destruct (388). She supports the notion that isolation is a literary technique which was used to induce the theme of fear in the tale. Until this stage of the story, the reader is made to prepare for unusual things that will happen in the later parts of the text. The use of a melancholic tone further demonstrates the gothic genre and the Gothic literature for narrators or other characters to go undergo psychological deterioration. In the Fall of the House of Usher, it is not the narrator, but his old childhood friend Usher who descends into insanity. Peter Obuchowski on his article titled United of Effect in Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher supports that the story creates atmosphere without activity and draws the reader deep into the story of the melancholy house of Usher. He claims that phrases like I had been passing alone, I found myself and found myself within view of shows the narrator is in a state of depression. The Usher’s family appears to have been rocked with madness and insanity. The Roderick’s song, The Haunted Palace, (Poe 285) impresses the narrator as the allegorical representation of the Usher’s madness.

The narrator is overwhelmed with the terror, gloom, and illness happening in Usher’s family. On his arrival, Roderick was already nervous and superstitious, but his sister’s deteriorating condition seemed to put him over the edge. Roderick demonstrates the highest sense of insanity when he buries her sister alive. In the article Explanation in the ‘The Fall of The House of Usher,’ Beverly Voloshin supports that argument that Roderick manifests a severe sense of madness. She claims that the Roderick become distracted and more vacant (422) after the death of his sister Madeline. The narrator accounts for the sudden change in Roderick to an oppressive secret or he is caught in the vagaries of madness” (422). Goptic writers normally use madness as a stylistic genre that portrays cruel realism or something occurring under supernatural intervention. Gothic literature often involves themes such as the loss of self-control, inevitability, and fate as the ultimate determining factor in the characters. In such themes, insanity and madness are the topics that fit quite well.

Another thing which necessitates the use of insanity and madness in most of the literature written in the Gothic era is that the period was characterized by fear and the unknown. There was no scientific theories and modes of reasons which consequently found their way into the narratives of Gothic works. Supernatural elements which are synonymous with Gothic literature are also widely used in the Poe’s short story. Supernaturalism in the tale can be evidenced in the physical appearance and the location of Usher family’s house which the narrator explains that it is synonymous with Roderick himself. A supernatural atmosphere is created by describing the decaying house causing feelings of horror. The premature burial of Madeline surprises the readers.

She appears to actually be dead at first but she seems later to be like a ghost when she rose from dead. It turns out that Madeline was not dead and she was merely trying to get out of the tomb. Beverly Voloshin terms the whole story as unusual and unnatural (421). She argues that the events in the tale including the mysterious decay of the Usher’s house and undead corpse strongly suggest a possibility of supernatural influence (421). She claims that Madeline and Roderick resemble the victims of vampires (421). She likens their sickness to vampirism, a condition which is not curable. Roderick’s malady is a constitutional and a family evil and her sister’s disease had long baffled the skill of her physicians (Poe 280-282). Poe incorporated supernatural elements into this tale to achieve a dark and scary mood which are necessary for the audience to understand the intended meaning of the story.

The Fall of the House of Usher: Disturbances, Derangement, Anxiety and Doom

The ancient, decaying House of Usher, filled with gloomy furniture of the room-of the dark and tattered draperies, which, tortured into motion by the breath of a rising tempest, swayed fitfully to and fro upon the walls, and rustled uneasily about the decorations of the bed, (pg. 406) and set in a dull atmosphere is Roderick and Madeline Usher. Besides its regard of Gothic imagery and horrendous events, the story has a psychological component and symbolism between the house and Roderick Usher.

The story resides in a place of insufferable gloom that sickened the heart and ate away at the soul. This story evokes a feeling of dispirited and dread, along with a dreary environment. The madness of Roderick and Madeline Usher, the progressive deterioration of the house, and the mortifying realization that the power of intense fear. As the narrator approaches the house of Usher, he experiences a sense of dreary among him, which then makes him dread being in such an adverse place. The dreariness of the house increases the unstable mental illness of the already ill Roderick. The narrator himself begins to pace around from the agony from his surroundings.

The narrator in The Fall of the House of Usher was the friend of the main characters Roderick Usher. Roderick lived with his sister in the house and both suffered from mental illness that had ultimately led to their deaths. The house was not actually haunted, but there was a permanent sense of decay about the house that continued up to both of the Ushers. With their mental illnesses, and Madeline Ushers ability to withdraw into a reserved state that would make anyone aware of her condition concluded that the person had died. The setting of the story was the house, which was always described in a way of dark and gloomy. The houses front wall as the narrator describes, resembles a giant face or skull. Roderick’s large and luminous eyes are a mirror image of the houses eye-like windows. The Usher House seems so old and fragile that its instability will cause it to collapse. The walls that cover the Usher House seem to be in decay. Roderick’s soft and web-like hair resembles the houses cob webs that hangs on the front walls. The physical deterioration of the house symbolized the physical deterioration of Roderick and Madeline Usher. Roderick’s artistic creations have a bold fitting with what happens in the Usher House.

Intense fear can cause greater anxiety in a person that will derive them to do irrational things and lose contact with insanity. Roderick Usher believes that the house of Usher dictated his fate and is always conspiring against him. Usher sees what the house is doing to his sister and what he believes it is doing to him, which fills him with great anxiety and despair. Usher becomes agitated, that when Madeline becomes catatonic, he tells the narrator that she has expired and seals her alive inside of a vault in the house. Obviously no sane person would so such a thing to a sibling whom he loves, but nevertheless, the combination of intense fear and an unstable mind lead Roderick to do the terrible deed.

The depreciation of both the physical house of Usher and the people of the Usher House is what the story is really all about. As the physical house of Usher crumbles, so do the family members. The house, as well as Roderick and Madeline, still manage to survive, even though they are wearing away inside like the desolate stones that comprise the house’s structure. As we see Roderick crumbling, we sense that an subsequent doom is deceasing upon the entire household, inspiring a feeling of despair. The disturbed characters, and the dreary setting are a realization of how fear can drive one insane.

Analysis of “The Fall of the House of Usher”

In the short story, The Fall of the House of Usher, written by the poet Edgar Allen Poe during the romantic period, it sheds light into a time where there was much darkness, mental illness, and an overall negative phycological outlook and misunderstanding to certain societal and personal identifications. Poe is a known poet of revealing the inner evils and the dark and gloomy settings within his writings. He is a known writer of the personal fears and fictional mysteries that displayed a semi-accurate truth that was historically known as the gothic writing style during the romantic period.

This gothic style of writing that Poe is known for is precisely presented in, The Fall of the House of Usher, within Poe’s extensive use of a darkened setting, the use of underlying physical and mental illnesses, surreal imagery, and symbolism that both represented the gothic writing style and the historical context of the mid-nineteenth century.

The short story written by Edgar Allen Poe begins with a descriptive yet negative setting that promotes the gothic literature style presented by the author.

During the whole of a dull, dark, and soundless day in the autumn of the year, when the clouds hung oppressively low in the heavens, I had been passing alone, on horseback, through a singularly dreary tract of country; and at length found myself, as the shades of the evening drew on, within view of the melancholy House of Usher. (Poe 629)

This descriptive beginning to the story portrays to the reader the gothic style of writing that Poe is known for. When looking at what makes literature apart of the gothic style we can review the comments made by Andrew Smith when he describes the characteristics of gothic literature for the romantic period when stating that gothic styles contain representations of ruins [or] castles and that it contains, forms of monstrosity, and images of insanity, transgression, and the supernatural. When looking at the short story, The Fall of the House of Usher, and what Smith identified as elements of a gothic writing, the readers can identify the correlation to the gothic literature based on the imagery used to describe the setting. The audience can use the imagery and diction used by Poe to solidify this statement with the use of words such as, Decaying, excessive antiquity, and even the description of the grey walls that darken the setting furthermore and help present the themes of gothic literature.

Using what Smith presented as characteristics of gothic literature the audience can create a connection of the gothic literature genre to the short story written by Poe, but we can also use contextual evidence in the story to get an idea of the theme and period and how it was presented in, The Fall of the House of Usher. A major theme of the short story is incest. Incest is subtlety presented to the reader at first when the author mentions in the short story, Her decease, he said, with a bitterness which I can never forget, would leave him (him the hopeless and the frail) the last of the ancient race of the Ushers (Poe 633). This is important to the theme and the period because it sheds light upon the reason of the mental illnesses faced by the Ushers. As Poe presented a like comparison between both remaining members of the Usher family when he describes their features, figures, and even the air around them all seemingly alike, even Identical (Poe 633). With this description of the Ushers Poe is giving even more insight on the ancestral lineage of incest and its importance to the overall plot. When understanding the importance of the relation of incest to the plot the understanding of the side effects of incest is a required knowledge. Written in a scientific meta-analysis study there is a statement about incest and how it relates to the Usher’s when stated, Biological incest offenders exhibited more psychopathology (e.g., mental health difficulties) (Toates). This is a key factor in the plot and identifications of the Ushers’ mental illnesses and fears. This reported research of biological incest (which is what is believed to be a part of the Usher’s lineage) ties together the themes of the story and gives certain understanding to why the Ushers’ actions, appearances, and phycological states are presented the way they are in Poe’s, The Fall of the House of Usher.

When looking at symbolism in the short story the audience can identify certain aspects that reference the gothic literature this specific story is a part of, but also the time period in which this work is written in. Symbolism is immediately found in the title of the piece, The Fall of the House of Usher. This in simple terms represents the crumbling of the House at the end of the story, but in a symbolic aspect it could mean the discontinued lineage of the Usher family with the death of Madeline and Roderick Usher. Diving deeper into the ancestral tree, this also means the discontinuation of the incest that was a part of the Usher family; the incest that caused their mental and phycological illnesses. The Usher’s house complete demolition also means that the darkness and evils that surrounded the actions practiced by the Usher lineage are no longer. Poe, represented many different symbolic elements within his short story that presented the audience with insight into the gothic literature style and the romantic period.

Poe’s, The Fall of the House of Usher, gives the audience insight into the romantic time period and gothic literature style presented by the writer by using the symbolic elements, the descriptive diction with darkened settings, as well as the use of imagery and other analytical elements to portray his darkened story. It also gives us insight into the importance of the author and his effect on modern day gothic literature and society. As Lasley Dameron commented in his online article, Edgar Allen Poe is the south’s most renowned literary artist of the 19th century, and recognizing his connection to the gothic elements and his artistic talent to articulately display the plot and theme of a short story while keeping the audience hypnotized within his writing and is one of the most influential gothic writers during the nineteenth century.

The Fall of the House of Usher: Comparison to Mental and Physical Illness

The Fall of the House of Usher is a story about a sick man whose fears demonstrate themselves through his mystical, sentient family home. The story explores mental and physical illness and how it affects people closest to those who are sick. In The Fall of the House of Usher, the narrator tells a story where he visits an old childhood friend who is suffering from a severe mental illness.

Automatically, there is a sense of melancholy and misery in the narrator’s description of the house. The story begins on a soundless day in autumn; the setting is described 457as a discouraging, dark, and a vacant home which floods the narrator with an unsettling feeling of utter depression and unredeemed dreariness. The house has more power over the narrator than it should which allows the reader to question the narrator’s mental health, one can argue the narrator is insane. The narrator feels as though everything surrounding the house is mysterious and enigmatic, which brings upon an evil power destructive to human beings (Weisheng 289). Setting is used to convey messages, ideas, and images; Edgar Allan Poe can communicate truth about the characters mental health through the setting.

Poe’s goal was to create a gloomy mood for the story which brought upon supernatural spook. The home had been engulfed by a fungus and had an atmosphere which had smelled of decayed trees; the decay surrounding the home has infected the air, which may have caused illness to those living in the home. With dark and uninviting walls; the home suffered from crumbling conditions. The eye of a scrutinizing observer might have discovered a barely perceptible fissure, which, extending from the roof of the building in front, made its way down the wall in a zigzag direction, until it became lost in the sullen waters of the tarn (Poe 3). This is the narrator describing the exterior of the Usher home, focusing on the flaws; a debilitated condition of an old mansion. The mental illnesses Roderick is suffering from such as anxiety and depression, directly describes the characteristics of the House of Usher; dull, sluggish crumbling and debilitating. The fissure in the wall of the home is equivalent to the fissure in Roderick’s mind. Every state of mind and body demonstrates itself as a characteristic of the home’s exterior. The house is neglected, similar to the health of Roderick and his sister Madeline. The house itself becomes the figurative example of the characters; the house is a projection of the characters distressed personalities. As the mind and body of Roderick and Madeline starts to deteriorate, the Usher home begins to decay.

The Fall of the House of Usher has many themes, one of them being insanity. Each character seems to be engulfed in their own state of mind, creating illusions and turning them into reality. The home seems to play with the characters minds, but Madeline and Roderick trap themselves in the house filled with their own fear. The narrator acknowledges that simple, natural objects can have complete power over us, Roderick has been dominated by all things in his home. He is in a constant battle with these things and his mind; in this battle he is a loser (Weisheng 291) Roderick is enchanted and terrified by the inscrutable things around him, he suffers from despair, and mental breakdowns, showing little signs of agency (Weisheng 299) Unpleasant ideas and obsessive thoughts can control our minds and are difficult to get rid of.

Involuntary images and visual memories are prominent in many types of psychopathology. Patients with posttraumatic stress disorder, other anxiety disorders, depression, and psychosis frequently report repeated visual intrusions corresponding to a small number of real or imaginary events, usually extremely vivid, detailed, and with highly distressing content. (Brewin, et al 210)

This is similar to someone who is fighting depression, they are unable to look past the distorted images of life that their sickness gives them. When suffering from a mental illness, trying to see life in a brighter and more positive perspective can sometimes be an impossible task. Roderick has fallen into a severe mental depression. He suffers from various nervous disorders; he is a hypochondriac and hypersensitive to most stimuli. Roderick is mentally disturbed by something and becomes agitated and restless (Weisheng 293) Usher describes his illness as a family evil, he believes his depression has been transferred through generations of bad genetics. Roderick’s hypochondria and mental instability lead him to believe he is physically ill without any medical diagnoses from a doctor. Madeline’s sickness is also compared to utter depression, she suffers from apathy; gradually wasting away and becomes bed ridden until her imaginary death.

Isolation also plays a great role in this short story; isolation is a symptom of depression and anxiety. Roderick and his sister Madeline self-isolate and are completely removed from normality. The extreme separation brings the family members closer together, to a supernatural point that is incomprehensible to any outsider. The twins feed off one another, creating nothing but negative energy in the home which causes them to be physically and mentally ill. I had learned, too, the very remarkable fact, that the stem of the Usher race, all time-honored as it was, had put forth, at no period, any enduring branch; in other words, that the entire family lay in the direct line of descent, and had always, with very trifling and very temporary variation, so lain (Poe 2). Roderick and Madeline are the last of the Usher family. They both are suffering from odd illnesses which could be a direct cause of the intermarriage in the family; a possible genetic cause of their illness. Roderick’s mental problems come from his family history, it is believed that he is haunted by memories of a remote and repressed past, he now suffers from a traumatic mind because of his unresolved past (Weisheng 293). The twin’s relationship is mysterious, bizarre and almost incestuous; the bond that they share as brother and sister is powerful. It is believed that twins are one person split into two, unable to survive without one another; their bond exceeds even death. Without Madeline, Roderick’s physical and mental condition begin to deteriorate even more, he suffers from a severe distress of the soul. Poe describes windows as being long, narrow, and pointed, and at so vast a distance from the black oaken floor as to be altogether inaccessible from within (3). The house held a sense of imprisonment and confinement as described in this quote, windows were out of reach; escaping the home was almost impossible. The narrator’s role as an outsider was very evident, it was clear that he did not belong in this home. Madeline and Roderick wished to remain entirely secluded from the exterior world. Poe describes the siblings as, A striking similitude between the brother and sister now first arrested my attention; and Usher, divining, perhaps, my thoughts, murmured out some few words from which I learned that the deceased and himself had been twins, and that sympathies of a scarcely intelligible nature had always existed between them (8). While the siblings are hereditarily close as twins, they are closer than most fraternal twins because the entire Usher race has become inbred; the Usher family is genetically incestual.

It is evident that the physical features of the House of Usher symbolize Roderick and Madeline’s mental health. Poe did a great job depicting the severe mental illness of Roderick and Madeline through the setting, allowing the reader to better understand the characters. The short story is mysterious, there is a power to control while the characters suffer from despair, and melancholy. The twin’s relationship is so strong that it eventually leads to death. The House of Usher had complete power over the characters, leading them to their mental and physical illnesses. As the twins start to become lifeless and their mind and body begin to deteriorate, the Usher home is no more, as it crumbles down. The home left nothing but misery and an unsettling fear.

The Fall of the House of Usher: Gothic Literature

Edgar Allan Poe was born in January 19, 1809 in Boston, Massachusetts. His father and mother are both professional actors. Unfortunately, by the time Poe was two.

His parents passed away. Poe was raised in a foster home of John Allan, a prosperous exporter from Richmond, Virginia. In 1815, Allen’s family moved to Scotland and England to live for five years. In 1820, the family moved back to Richmond. Poe wrote his first poetry when he was sixteen. Poe went to the University of Virginia. In there he had owed debts by stared gambling and drink. Allan’s family refused to pay Poe’s debts, so he had to leave the University in 1827. He attended to the army after that, also Poe publish his first poetry collection named Tame lane and Other Poems with the cover states was By a Bostonian in the same year. Two years later, 1829, Poe published his second collection with slightly more attention. Few months later, Poe discharged the army and entered the West Point military academy. Because the Allan’s family did not provide the Poe with sufficient funds to maintain himself at school, nor the school not give any consent necessary to resign. Poe gained dismissal by not doing his duties. He moved to New York and published his book Poems in 1831. In 1834, Poe’s foster father, Allan’s death provided Poe a legacy. Poe moved backed to Richmond and became an editor of Southern Literacy Messenger. For this position, Poe made himself famous as a superlative author of fictions, poetry, also a literacy critic. In 1836, Poe married his cousin, Virginia, who was only thirteen at the time. After Virginia’s death in 1847, Poe engaged to Mrs. Shelton two years after. Poe died on October 7, 1849 with his semi consciousness mind in the last days of his life in Baltimore.

Edgar Allan Poe was living in the Romanticism period, so did his literature have a big influence. One of his well-known short story is “”The Fall of The House of Usher””. This story is also a Gothic story; it is a fiction that have elements of horror setting, supernatural, madness feelings of terror and fears.

During the whole of a dull, dark, and soundless day in the autumn of the year, when the clouds hung oppressively low in the heavens. From the beginning of the story. “”The Fall of The House of Usher”” has a scary setting that created an imagine of ghostly place. Autumn known for a sadness season, when the days get dark early. This is the season when all the leaves fall all over, it is the implicit for deathly people. Unlike the spring, when all things grow, fresh air and bright days. The castle is the common setting for Gothic story, “”The Fall of The House of Usher”” placed is the castle with eye-like windows, this image created a soul of the castle itself, add on it the few white trunks decayed tree-with the depression of soul around the castle. Poe used words such as bleak wall, decayed tree, grey sedge, gray stone, stern air, tangle web-work, to describe a sorrow picture through his story. He made the characters in the story seen weak with illness and suffers. This explained for how the House of Usher is lifeless, no lights can get in the house, the oppressive of odors of all flowers. Poe’s setting challenges his audience to imagine the deadly fiction in his story.

Poe state that Usher’s voice is varied rapidly from a tremulous indecision, he gave example as an animal spirits seemed utterly in abeyance. His voice is abrupt, weighty, unhurried, and hollow-sounding enunciation. Poe compared Usher voice with addicts. That leaden, self- balanced and perfectly modulated guttural utterance, which may be observed in the lost drunkard, or the irreclaimable eater of opium, during the periods of his most intense excitement. The madness sorrow of Usher fully describes in his fear and his heavy suffers. The comparison of Poe for Usher is a great example, when the Usher’s mind is hollow and terror. It is hard to have clear decisions, nor his action. Usher fear of the abandon sooner or later with get his life. Similarity with the addicts, when the drug gets in their body, thee are not such things they can feel, their mind flow, they afraid the “”good feeling”” they have will go away. There is just a madness in several madness characteristics cover in the whole Usher’s house.

Toward the end of the story, Poe let more fears appear in the story. The fear from the setting; the fear of the narrator; especially, the fear of Usher when he is hearing his sister, Madeline is coming closer and closer to take his soul with her. Usher said, We have put her living in the tomb! “” Usher terrified, we can tell Usher regret and afraid with his actions. He heard Madeline feeble movements in the hollow coffin under the tomb. The characteristic of Gothic stands when usher repeat several times that he had heard Madeline’s movements many days ago, he hear the breaking of the hermit’s door, and the death-cry of the dragon, and the clangor of the shield! Usher mind is not consistence no more, he stared to ask the narrator insensitivity questions, “”Oh whither shall I fly? Will she not be here anon? Is she not hurrying to upbraid me for my haste? Have I not heard her footstep on the stair? Do I not distinguish that heavy and horrible beating of her heart? Madman!. Usher said, Madman! I tell you that she now stands without the door?”” Poe challenges the reader’s imagination a gain to picture the ghostly Madeline. This is the element of Romanticism literature, the supernatural appearances with horror factors bring the violent and fear for the imagination.

When the narrator fled the Usher’s cattle. The house of usher describes with ghostly setting again. For instants, the narrator sees a full, setting, and blood-red moon, shine vividly. He sees discernible fissures on the wall; the break down zigzag direction from the roof to the base. In the storm, the house of Usher collapsed alsike there was a long tumultuous shouting sound like the voice of a thousand water.

And, round about his home, the glory

That blushed and bloomed

Is but a dim-remembered story?

Of the old time entombed “”

The Usher’s house’s fall is such a connection with The Haunted Palace that Usher and the narrator talked not too long before Usher’s death. According to the song lyric, the Usher’s house is just the imaginary image. It is gone now; the old day is pass. They are bright days ahead. Things are temporary, so does fear and wealth.

I learned a lesson by the imagine of the collapse of the Usher’s house in the end of the story that fear, and the paranoia can lead to terrified madness.

After reading this story, I know more about Gothic literature. All the elements to create honor in books and movies now a day are somewhat related to old day literary. I can tell the conclusion that horror setting is a huge impact on Gothic’s work, because the horror setting can get reader attention, as well as the fully horror setting will open the imaginary of reader. Gothic literary are fictions that have elements of horror setting, supernatural, madness feelings of terror and fears. Gothic literary begins with the sorrow feeling, the darkness side, the lifeless surrounding factors. Over all, the Romanticism literature are fictions, and fictions are always challenges imagination.

Rhetorical Analysis of The Fall of the House of Usher

In the short story, The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allen Poe, diction, symbolism, narration, and foreshadowing is extensively used to create an air of dread and suspense. Poe’s use of diction along with symbolism contributes to establishing a mood of somberness, and impending despair through dread. By using symbolic comparison between the Ushers and their manor, the story’s suspense builds as the queer characteristics of the Usher’s manor are depicted. Poe’s advanced literary tactics are evident in the way he is able to achieve a story of both dread and horror.

In The Fall of the House of Usher, Poe’s Gothic, and abhorrent wording allows him to establish a dreadful mood. Poe’s style of writing along with his foreshadowing vernacular is significant in creating a suspenseful Gothic era story. At the beginning of the short story, Poe describes the House of Usher, I looked upon the scene before me –upon the mere manor, and the simple landscape features of the domain –upon the bleak walls –upon the vacant eye-like windows –upon a few rank sedges — and upon a few white trunks of decayed trees… (Poe). His choice of words strongly emphasizes a mood of darkness and suspense as he builds on the horrific aspects of his story. At first glimpse, the manor itself is surrounded by the feeling of insufferable gloom, There was an iciness, a sinking, a sickening of the heart, an unredeemed dreariness of thought… (Poe). The atmosphere that Poe describes in the statement above establishes a cold, bone chilling mood. Poe uses words such as insufferable gloom along with other abhorrent words to stress a mood of horror and unease in the manor. Furthermore, the manor evokes suspense as it strikes the reader with curiosity as to why the building presents itself in such a dreadful and uneasy manner. Poe describes the manor with further detail emphasizing its ghastly traits: Dark draperies hung upon the walls. The general furniture was profuse, comfortless, antique, and tattered. Many books and musical instruments lay scattered about, but failed to give any vitality to the scene (Poe). Poe description of the manor leads it to be a depressant in the story. It sets up a somber mood that slowly leads more into dread and horror as the work goes on. The Usher’s manor is a dark and foreboding place and Poe does well in setting up the scene of his work.

Poe also uses symbolism to represent the connection between the manor and the Usher family. The description of the manor itself has an inseparable resemblance to that of Roderick and Madelyn Usher. Once the narrator arrives at the Usher’s manor, Poe offers an in-depth description of the manor’s current physical state. The discoloration of age had been great. Minute fungi overspread the whole exterior, hanging in fine tangled web-work from the eves (Poe), Poe is able to manifest an air of suspense by comparing the state of the Usher’s manor to that of Roderick Usher himself. Roderick Usher was known by the narrator in his childhood, and his childhood memories of him are of a noble man. Now his friend has been reduced to a pallid description The now ghastly pallor of the skin, and the now miraculous lustre of the eve, above all things startled and even awed me. The silken hair, too, had been suffered to grow all unheeded, and as, in its wild gossamer texture, it floated rather than fell about the face, I could not, even with effort, connect its Arabesque expression with any idea of simple humanity (Poe). This description is in direct comparison with the Usher’s own manor and represents how he has fallen along with it. Roderick’s sister Madelyn Usher, is more described through her malady. The disease of the lady Madeline had long baffled the skill of her physicians. A settled apathy, a gradual wasting away of the person, and frequent although transient affections of a partially cataleptical character, were the unusual diagnosis. (Poe). While Roderick does not have this malady himself, he describes himself and being afflicted with a constitutional and a family evil, and one for which he despaired to find a remedy –a mere nervous affection, he immediately added, which would undoubtedly soon pass off. (Poe). Though Roderick Usher would later admit that his sisters ondition is inpart affecting him, one must think if this malady is Usher’s curse in physical form. He also described Roderick Usher himself as …enchained by certain superstitious impressions in regard to the dwelling which he tenanted… and along with the dreariness of the manor, serves to set up greater suspense in the work.

Poe’s use of foreshadowing serves to build the suspense and horror in the story. The earliest of which, clever readers will see it as the foreshadowing of the end Perhaps the eye of a scrutinizing observer might have discovered a barely perceptible fissure, which, extending from the roof of the building in front, made its way down the wall in a zigzag direction, until it became lost in the sullen waters of the tarn. (Poe). By foreshadowing the end in the beginning, Poe sets up an air of dread and suspense for his story. Because it is brought up so early, the reader is left wondering what impact this will have on the story, and it remains in the back of their thoughts. Of course, Roderick Usher himself foreshadowed his own demise “”I shall perish, said he, I must perish in this deplorable folly. Thus, thus, and not otherwise, shall I be lost. I dread the events of the future, not in themselves, but in their results. I shudder at the thought of any, even the most trivial, incident, which may operate upon this intolerable agitation of soul. I have, indeed, no abhorrence of danger, except in its absolute effect –in terror. In this unnerved-in this pitiable condition –I feel that the period will sooner or later arrive when I must abandon life and reason together, in some struggle with the grim phantasm, FEAR.”” (Poe). With previous foreshadowing laid out in the story, Roderick Usher himself saying that his end is upon him, puts the full gravity of suspense on the reader. Of course, the narrator was asked to come here to belay the feelings of dread that Roderick Usher was feeling and so he does his best too. Yet still Poe’s foreshadowing rings in the background, and moves ever closer to the foreground.

The narration of the story is also important in the overall work. The story is told through the eyes of a narrator who has known Roderick Usher since their childhood. Since the story is being told from a narrator’s perspective, we are allowed access to a far more intimate look at the narrator’s perspective of the events unfolding around him. This serves to greatly emphasize the abhorrent circumstances and bleak and oppressive scene of the House of Usher. The narrator makes multiple attempts to try and bring objectivity to his and Roderick Usher’s fears and tell an objective account of whats happening. This merely serves to undermine himself and Usher when it’s clear that he cannot be trusted upon his word, which serves immensely to expand the dread and horror that comes latter in the work.

In the end of The Fall of the House of Usher all of Poe’s techniques from diction to symbolism, narration, and foreshadowing come head. All serve their purpose in building up to the climactic and terrible ending that the narrator witnesses with disbelieving eyes as he flees in abject terror. Through proper use of these many techniques, Poe establishes an emotionally suspenseful story that masterfully sets itself up for its horrifying end.

Citations

Poe A, Edgar. “”The Fall of the House of Usher (1839).”” 27 June 2005. 26 September 2018

Homosexuality in The Fall of the House of Usher

Edgar Allen Poe’s famous short story The Fall of the House of Usher is known for pitting the rational against the irrational. Many interpretations of this piece see the Narrator as a representation of saneness that is tempted and eventually nearly killed due to his curiosity of insanity, embodied by Roderick Usher. However, The Fall of the House of Usher has a much more specific theme than just rational vs.

irrational; this story is speaking to the perceived irrationality, or abnormality, of homosexuality and the inability to have control over sexuality. Allusions to homosexuality are presented multiple times throughout the text. Some examples of this are: the unusual closeness of Roderick Usher and Narrator, the leisure activities of Roderick and Narrator, and the physical burial of the feminine. The fact that homosexuality was viewed as a mental disorder during the time setting of the story, as well as when Poe was writing, along with these pieces of evidence create a clear connection between the homosexuality and The Fall of the House of Usher.

The intimacy of Roderick and the Narrator’s relationship goes far beyond that of friendship. The Fall of the House of Usher begins with the Narrator dropping everything to attend to a man, Roderick Usher that he hasn’t seen or heard from in multiple years. He does this because of a letter expressing Roderick’s earnest desire (Poe, 5) to see him. This seems a bit extreme of a long lost childhood friend however, it seems believable for long lost lovers. The text even describes the previous friendship as intimate (5), a term often associated with the physical aspects of a romantic relationships. From the beginning of the narrative, readers can see that there is something deeper than friendship between Roderick Usher and Narrator.

The romantic nature of these men’s relationship is intensified upon Narrator’s arrival at the House of Usher. As the two men see each other for the first time, Narrator details the vivacious warmth (7) with which he was greeted before giving readers an in-depth analysis of Roderick’s once remarkable (7) face. First, he notes Roderick’s eyes as luminous beyond comparison (7), which is interesting because eyes are often times referred to as a window to the soul. It is no coincidence that this sounds a lot more romantic than it does friendly. Next, he addresses Roderick’s lips, the body part used for kissingromantic, physical affectionas having a beautiful curve to them (7). Narrator goes on to describe Roderick’s finely-molded and prominent chin and jawline (7). Prominent chins tend to be associated with masculinity and having a defined jawline is a troupe of rugged male love interests. The great detail in which Narrator describes the aesthetically pleasing nature of Roderick’s chin suggests his physical attraction to the male form. However, after this extremely intensive analysis of Roderick’s unforgettable face, readers are told that this is no longer what Roderick looks like, but how Narrator remembers him. These vivid memories suggest that Narrator has spent a lot of time committing Roderick’s face to memory, something friends do not tend to do. The romantic tones to their relationship amplify as the two men begin to spend extended periods of time together.

This intimate relationship between the Narrator and Roderick is solidified by the leisure activities they engage in together. The two are often described as reading together late at night by the fire in the den. This clearly has intimate undertones that suggest an increased level of comfortability between the two men. However, it is not only the behavior they engage in, but the books they read that clues reader into the homosexual relationship between Roderick Usher and Narrator.

All of the texts the two men read depict women unfavorably or highlight male sexuality. One of the books specifically mentioned is Machiavelli’s Belphegor. This novel is about the Devil marrying a woman, becoming terrified of her, and denouncing the concept of marriage and women in general (5). The idea of men turning away from women, when sexuality is an innate human desire, suggests that they should turn to other men. Additionally, Roderick is noted to especially like, and even dream about, passages in Pomponious Mela, a novel about the old African Satyrs and ?“gipans(6). Satyrs come from the Greek culture, which is known in part for its open-minded approach to sexuality, and are traditionally portrayed as hedonistic goat-men with permanent erections (Hubbard). It is not only his desire of men, but his disinterest in women that hint to Roderick Usher’s homosexuality.

In addition to the intimate relationship between Roderick and Narrator and their interest in homoerotic literature, the removal of the only feminine character in The Fall of the House of Usher, Madeline Usher, suggests a male homosexual relationship between the two main characters. After a few days with Narrator, Roderick claims that his sister has passed away and that they need to bury her under the house. However, the audience is left to question of Madeline Usher is really dead. Upon her burial, Lady Madeline is has blush upon the bosom and face and a lingering smile according to Narrator (Poe 12). Since the dead can neither blush nor smile, this suggest that she is still alive. However, despite noticing these signs of life, Narrator continues to participate in the burial. Obviously, there is a strong reasoning for these two men to bury a women alive and the insanity of homosexuality is clearly the answer.

Madeline Usher must be disposed of in order for Roderick and Narrator to be together. A large portion of the text highlights the fact that Roderick and Madeline, both eligible, are the last in the direct line of decent for the Usher family (6). Clearly, in their incestuous family, it would be completely normal, and even expected, that Roderick and Madeline reproduce together. The only explanation for why they would not have a child, since it is the norm in their family, is a lack of physical attraction between the two. The instincts to have children that Roderick would have naturally possessed accompanied with a completely disinterested sexual attitude towards his sister and secret lust for men would have undoubtedly created unbearable pressure for Roderick Usher. It is entirely possible that this pressure led him to burying Lady Madeline alive. In addition to his sexual disinterestedness in his sister, Roderick also would have wanted to bury his sister to remove the possibility of Narrator being with her rather than him.

Seeing as Roderick and Madeline are twins whom share a striking similitude (12), readers can assume Madeline represents a version of Roderick that the Narrator is socially allowed to love. She would have been the much easier choice for Narrator to be with. In burying her alive, Roderick hides the temptation from the Narrator, whose eyes follow her retreated step (8) the first time he sees her before looking back eagerly (8) to Roderick who has buried his face in his hands. Clearly Roderick is upset at the thought of the Narrator paying mind to Madeline rather than him. Therefore, it can then be inferred that Roderick may feel that his sister could possibly steal the Narrator’s attention. With Madeline out of the picture, and the homosexual tensions rising, the mens’ insanity, and therefore homosexual tendencies, continue to rise.

The time period in which Poe wrote this piece allows the reader to assume that the deteriorating mental health of the Narrator and Roderick would have been connected to their homosexual tendencies. The Fall of the House of Usher was originally published in 1839, well before gender and sexuality rights existed and freedoms existed. In fact, during the 19th century, being a homosexual was actually considered a mental disorder (Herek), something we know to be false today. During the 1800’s, mental disorders associated with insanity were treated very differently than today. Many people with mental disorders were shamed by their communities and feared by nearly everyone; this could be one of the reasons that Roderick seems to have little to no contact with the outside world. At the time, even writing about homosexuality could have been bad news for Poe, which explains why he chooses to leave Roderick’s illness unspecified in the text and instead heavily hinted at it for close readers. Just like any other untreated disease, the homosexuality continues to spread as The Fall of the House of Usher continues.
After spending time with Roderick, Narrator starts to see and hear things. He is becoming just as irrational as his host.

Narrator’s adoption of Roderick’s symptoms represents his return to homosexuality but, this does not seem to be a choice for Narrator. One night, after about a week of being completely alone in the house with Roderick, Narrator has trouble sleeping. Overwhelmed and nervous, Narrator feels that there is an incubus (12) on his heart, which causes him to get up, put on some clothes, and go for a walk around the house to calm down. This is particularly interesting because while the common definition of incubus is a distress, religious and mythological scholar Jeffery Russel describes an incubus as a male sex demon which is known for having paranormal intercourse with their victims (Russell, 145). Interestingly enough, Stephen Walter, professional novelist, presents the traditional belief held that repeated sexual interactions with an Incubus can cause one’s health to deteriorate, and can even result in death (Stephens, 23). By having the homosexuality caused through a supernatural being, Poe highlights the fact that sexuality is not a choice. This is obviously a metaphor for the inability for humans to control their sexuality regardless of its social status as good or bad. This is Poe’s way of suggesting that despite being socially undesirable, homosexuality is not a choice.

Although homosexuality and the idea that it is not a choice would be a very modern and forward thinking idea for Poe, it is not impossible for his work to address this issue. There are far too many homosexual references in this text to be ignored. Poe uses diction and references that suggest an intimacy between Roderick Usher and the Narrator, directly references literature the negatively depicts women and positively representing the sexuality of men, while giving both Roderick and the Narrator attributes suggesting their questionable sanity. While the traditional sane vs. insane is an easy way to interpret The Fall of the House of Usher, it is clear that the true meaning is much more specifically referencing the mental illness, or insanity, that is homosexuality and the lack of control humans have over it.

Short Gothic Novella Story “The Fall of the House of Usher” by American author Edgar Allan Poe

The Fall of the House of Usher is one of the many books by Poe that sets the idea for Gothic work. Edgar Allan Poe was one of the main founders/authors of Dark Romanticism also known as Gothicism. Dark Romanticism (Gothicism) is the opposite/darkside of Romanticism, many Dark Romantic authors wanted to show the reader the darkness & evil that resides in each one of us.

Throughout this novella there are examples of sin and self-destruction, common elements in Gothic literature. In the story the childhood friend is in shock that he can not recognize the man in front of him to be Roderick Usher. It was with difficulty that I could bring myself to admit the identity of the wan before me with the companion of my early boyhood. The friend starts to see that Rodrick is deeply ill mentally. I soon found this to arise from a series of feeble and futile struggles to overcome an habitual tendency–an excessive nervous agitation, After the death of his sister the friend sees Rodrick as a mere ghost of a human now. The pallor of his countenance had assumed, if possible, a more ghastly hue — but the luminous of his eye had utterly gone out. These are vivid examples of Gothic elements throughout this book.

There are also Gothic literature examples of human psychological and emotional suffering in this short story.. Roderick Usher is deeply afraid of his servants and doctors that are taking care of him and his sister. The brother had been led to his resolution by consideration of the unusual character of the malady of the deceased, of certain obtrusive and eager inquires on the part of her medical men. Usher tells his friend how he would be overcome with grief once his sister dies being the last Usher of his generation. Her decease, he said, with a bitterness which I could never forget, would leave him the last of the ancient race of Ushers. Rodrick explains to his friend that the house is to be blame for his malady. His family mansion had,an effect which physique of the gray walls and turrets, and of the dim tarn into which they all look down, had at length, brought about upon the morale of his existence. These are other examples of Gothic elements in the book

Throughout this novella there are defining Gothic examples of supernatural & symbolic meaning. An unnatural storm arises out of nowhere late at night outside of the House of Usher. A whirlwind had apparently collected its force in our vicinity ; for there were frequent and violent alterations in the direction of the wind. The story that the friend is reading to Usher to calm him down is happening in real life. No sooner had these syllables passed my lips, than–as if a shield of brass had indeed, at the moment, fallen heavily upon a floor of silver. Towards the end of the story Usher and his friend sees Rodrick’s sister has risen from the dead. It was work of the rushing gust–but then without those doors there did stand the lofty and end shrouded figure of the lady Madeline of Usher. These Gothic elements, supernatural and symbolic meaning, are clearly represented in this novella.

In conclusion, The House of Usher is the quintessential of Gothic work. This short story includes all necessary elements for Gothic literature: suffering, death, supernatural, & self-destruction.