The Fall of the House of Usher
Comparing and Contrasting Good and Evil Research Paper
The essay is a critical examination of how evil and good are portrayed in two literatures; Shakespeare’s The Tempest and Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher. The Tempest is thought to have been written between 1610 and 1611. The story revolves around a remote area in which Prospero the main character is trying to ensure that together with his daughter they get back what is rightfully theirs.
Ideally the play lets the reader know that Miranda and her father were kicked out of their rightful position by Antonio, Prospero jealous brother. This leaves them stranded for 12 years and Miranda’s father is working day and night to reclaim their deserved position. Through such efforts, it is evident for the reader to clearly see through Shakespeare glasses the manner with which good and evil as themes are clearly depicted (Shakespeare par.5).
The second literature that will be used is The Fall of the House of Usher written by Poe. It is a short story of Gothic horror narrated in first person. The work was published back in 1893. In this gothic story, readers are told of the family of Usher; Roderick and his twin sister Madeline.
The two suffer from a disease which is unknown and cannot be cured. Their transgression which includes mental illness and incest are clearly brought to light by the author. To successfully accomplish this task, it would be rational to provide an understanding of the terms evil and good. In this context good will refers to that which is morally right. This means that good is that which helps and does less harm to others in the society.
On the other hand, evil is that which is not morally acceptable. It is an act of not being concern about others as well as knowingly and intentionally seeking to harm the interest as well as welfare of other human beings. It is worth to acknowledge that there is a controversy between good and evil and as suggested by other scholars hence difficult to determine whether one is evil or good (Herman 234). However, for the purposes of this paper every act will be analyzed independently.
Portrayal of good and evil in ‘The Tempest’
In the play The Tempest, Shakespeare has managed to clearly depict evil and good through characterization. It is through such characters as Prospero, Miranda, Ferdinand, Alonso, Ariel, as well as Antonio among others that the audience can see good and evil as intended by the author (Cantor 106).
In the beginning of the play readers are made to clearly understand that Prospero’s jealous brothers with the assistance of Alonso who was the King of Naples was toppled and set adrift with his daughter who was only 3 years old. This is an evil and inhuman act done to him and his daughter. The main reason that drove Antonio to do this was because of his selfish interest in gaining power to rule the people of Milan. This is shown in the following line
[Wow, is it exposition time already? Okay, kiddo, listen up: I used to be the duke of Milan, but then my asshole brother and the King of Naples put you and me on a boat and we ended up here]
On the other hand, through secretly supplying the boat used by Prospero with adequate food, water, clothing as well as books from his study room, Shakespeare manages to make readers understand that this was a good act. This was done by Gonzalo who was counselor to the King. Another act of evil is depicted when Ariel was trapped in a tree. This was the work of Sycorx who was a witch who trapped the later for his own selfish gain.
Despite his help to Ariel and teaching Caliban religion and other important things such as language, it was evil for Prospero to enslave Caliban and Ariel and later took power ad controlled the people living in the island. This is exemplified in the words said by Caliban, “You taught me language; and my profit on’t Is, I know how to curse: the red plague rid you, For learning me your language” (Cantor 71).
Similarly another act of evil is portrayed through an attempted rape where Caliban attempted to rape Miranda. Shakespeare wanted the audience to know how some evil acts are directed to certain gender. It is worth noting also that evil can be done by a group of people. The author makes the readers understand that the rebellion planned by Caliban, Stephano and Triculo failed (Graff & Phelan 49).
It is indeed difficult to establish whether it was good or evil for Prospero to raise tempest through his magic making the ship carrying his brother Antonio, Alonso, Gonzalo and two of Alonso’s brother sons to capsize. However since he did this to revenge, it was an evil act as portrayed by the author.
Shakespeare has tried to make readers hold the view that the acts of the various characters resulting to a good or evil activity is largely motivated by how every person perceives his position relative to those of other characters. Interestingly, the concept of evil and good has been successfully portrayed through the various themes in the poem. For instance, it is due to power that the readers are able to establish the motives behind the actions of Prospero and his brother Antonio (Grant 89).
Portrayal of good and evil in ‘The Fall of the House of Usher’
In this story, the author manages to bring the concept of good and evil in a completely different way when compared to the first article written by Shakespeare. Nonetheless there are instances where there seems to be some similarities. It is worth noting that Poe managed to use imagery to bring about the concept of evil (Kennedy 47).
For instance, it has been widely accepted that darkness is associated with evil things. In the beginning of the story the narrator while visiting his friend describes the surrounding and he uses the following words, “During the whole of a dull and soundless day……. When the clouds hung oppressively” (Krutch 62) this clearly depicts that there was an act previously committed that was morally wrong.
Additionally the narrator describes how the house of his childhood friend looked like; he said “I know not how it was – but, with the first glimpse of the building, a sense of insufferable gloom pervaded my spirit” (Kennedy 74) It is no doubt that Usher residence was one place that a lot of evil had taken place that even a new visitor will be met with a sad environment.
Additionally Poe manages to portray evil by making the narrator fully describe how the house of the Ushers looked like. This not only depicted the nature of evil but also its consequences; it fully destroys a family. The decaying and crumbling building symbolizes the effects of evil (Auberlen 207).
[I looked upon the scene before me – upon the mere house, 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 – with an utter depression of soul which I can compare to no earthly sensation more properly than to the after-dream of the reveler upon opium – the bitter lapse into everyday life – the hideous dropping off of the veil.
There was iciness, a sinking, a sickening of the heart – an unredeemed dreariness of thought which no goading of the imagination could torture into aught of the sublime] (Poe par. 6).
Through the narrator and Usher Roderick the readers are made aware of incest in Usher’s family. Upon arrival of his friend, Usher makes his childhood friend understand that the illness he is suffering from is a ‘family evil’ (Walter 98).
The narrator since was a long-time family friend to the Ushers, clearly knows that the family did not allow any member to be married by other members of the society and for that reason they engaged in inbreeding. This led to a very weak blood-line of the family since the family became one and the same genetically. As a result majority of the family members died due to complications related to inbreeding leaving only Usher and his twin sister who are also suffering from a deadly disease (Corben 153).
Through Madeline, the nature and effect of evil is depicted. She also suffers from serious disease that is unknown and incurable. Madeline and Usher engaged in an intimate relationship despite the fact that they were siblings. Similarly the cries heard while the narrator was loudly reading a story to comfort Usher as well as the crumbling and submerging of Usher’s house is a symbol of evil (Poe, par. 12). This is supported by the following.
[…my brain reeled as I saw the mighty walls rushing asunder – there was a long tumultuous shouting sound like the voice of a thousand waters – and the deep and dank tarn at my feet closed sullenly and silently over the fragments of the “House of Usher] (Poe par. 40)
This is the ultimate punishment for engaging in morally unacceptable activities. It is also worth noting that through Usher, his act of prematurely burying his twin sister was morally unacceptable. Interestingly, through paintings and music, the author manages to use these tools to bring out the concept of evil and good.
Concerning morally acceptable deeds, the narrator has taken the duty of heeding his friends call. He pays Usher a visit since they were childhood friend. It is through the narrator that we see that he takes the responsibility of staying; talking and comforting Usher who was very seek. Additionally the narrator helped Usher lay the body of his sister in a tomb within the family house. From the short story it is apparent that the issue of evil outweighed good (Poe par. 3).
From the review of the two stories, The Tempest and The Fall of the House of Usher, it is evident that the theme of evil and good are clearly depicted. However the authors used different mechanisms to accomplish this. Shakespeare managed to use characters to portray good and evil.
For instance it is through the main protagonist Prospero that other characters are developed conveying the same themes. On the other hand, Poe used imagery and symbolization, painting, music and first person narration through an unnamed narrator to portray good and evil. For instance Poe uses terms such as ‘mansion of gloom’, ‘a ghastly pallor of the skin’, and ‘darkness’ among others. This makes readers understand all these are linked to evil activities.
The common ground to both the authors is with regards to theme development, where the evil and good are manifested through characters. Although the authors used different mechanisms to portray the theme of evil and good, readers are able to appreciate these classical works. From these two classical works, it is apparent that evil is bad and leads to serious consequences.
Eckhard, Auberlen. “The Tempest and the Concerns of the Restoration Court: A Study of the Enchanted Island and the Operatic Tempest”. Restoration: Studies in English Literary Culture, 1660–1700, 15.1 (1991): 71–88. Print.
Cantor, Paul. “Shakespeare’s The Tempest: The Wise Man as Hero”. Shakespeare Quarterly, 31.1 (1980): 64–75. Print.
Corben. Richard. Edgar Allan Poe: The Fall of the House of Usher and Other Tales of Terror, London: Del Rey, 2005. Print.
Graff, Gerald and Phelan, James. The Tempest: A Case Study in Critical Controversy, London: MacMillan, 2000. Print.
Grant, Patrick. The Magic of Charity: A Background to Prospero, Oxford University: Oxford University Press, 1976. Print.
Herman, Barbara. The Practice of Moral Judgment, Harvard University: Harvard University Press, 1993. Print.
Kennedy, Gerald. Introduction: Poe in Our Time, collected in A Historical Guide to Edgar Allan Poe. Oxford University: Oxford University Press, 2001. Print.
Krutch, Joseph. Edgar Allan Poe: A Study in Genius. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1926. Print.
Poe, Edgar. “The Fall of the House of Usher”. 2008. Web. <http://www.online-literature.com/poe/31/>
Shakespeare, William. “The Tempest”, 1986. Web. <http://www.pinkmonkey.com/booknotes/barrons/tempest2.asp#othr>
Walter, Evans. “The Fall of the House of Usher’ and Poe’s Theory of the Tale.” Studies in Short Fiction, 14.2 (1977): 137–44.
Evans, Walter. “The Fall of the House of Usher” and Poe’s Theory of the Tale. Essay
In this article, Walter Evans discusses the narrative style of Edgar Allan Poe and speaks about the peculiarities of such a short story as The Fall of the House of Usher. This novella occupies a distinctive place in the creative legacy of this writer, and it is included in many collections or anthologies. This literary work has always attracted a close attention of many literary critics who intend to study the literary elements and techniques used by Poe.
On the whole, Walter Evans believes that this literary work does not comply with narrative principles advocated by Poe in many of his critical articles (Evans 137). Moreover, in the author’s opinion, Poe adopts a dramatically different narrative approach which was virtually unprecedented in the nineteenth century. Thus, the readers should consider this issue in order to assess this short story.
These are the main arguments that this scholar tries to elaborate in his discussion. In his critical works, this writer lays stress on the necessity to create the “preconceived effect” by inventing or combining the so-called “incidents” that enable the author to grasp the attention of a reader and produce a specific impression on the audience (Evans 138). In this case, the word incident is used to describe various elements of the narrative that help the writer to achieve his/her goals.
This writer believed that every literary element had to be subordinated to the main effect that the author tried to produce. This method was advocated by many writers in the nineteenth century. Poe applied this approach to many of his short stories. Yet, Walter Evans believes that Poe does not use this principle while writing The Fall of the House of Usher. The scholar describes this short story as “a series of vivid and superficially disjointed images” (Evans 140).
Apart from that, in Evans Walter’s view, the narrative elements do not play an important role in this short story. There are some important events that are critical for the development of the narrative, but Edgar Poe does not pay much attention to them. For instance, one can mention the alleged death of Lady Madeline (Evans 140). Furthermore, the readers know very little about the factors that contributed to the downfall of Roderick Usher. This is the major distinctions that the scholar identifies.
Overall, in this short story, Edgar Poe uses literary elements that help him create vivid imagery. In particular, one can speak about the use of metaphors that are necessary to create striking descriptions of the house in which the main character lives (Evans 143). These descriptions produce a strong impression on the readers who want to know why this house is depicted in this way. This is why this detail should be taken into account. Additionally, these literary devices are importa
This description help readers place themselves in the position of the story-teller. Overall, Walter Evans argues that The Fall of the House of Usher can be viewed as the example of a lyric short story in which the sensations of the protagonist are more important than different elements of the plot (Evans 144).
This issue should not be disregarded because it is vital for the evaluation of this short story. This approach was later adopted by many writers in the twentieth century. In particular, it is possible to mention such authors as Sherwood Anderson and James Joyce.
The author’s discussion shows that Edgar Poe could depart from the aesthetic principles which he discussed in his critical reviews. However, in this way, he was able to create innovative works of literature. These are the major points that the scholar makes in this article. One can argue that this article can be of great use to people who are interested in the works of Edgar Poe.
His literary legacy is still closely examined by many critics, and his narratives are still open to various interpretations. Furthermore, this source can help a reader understand different approaches to writing short stories. So, this information can be useful for analyzing various narratives created by other writers. More importantly, the source can help readers better appreciate fiction. These are some of the main benefits that can be distinguished.
This is why this article can be of great interest to students or even teachers. Certainly, the reading of this source may require some background knowledge. For example, one should learn more about the works of Edgar Poe and his views on literature and story-telling. Additionally, students may read various short stories written by this author. In this way, one can better understand the arguments that Walter Evans makes.
This is one of the limitations that should be considered. However, this article contains an in-depth and thought-provoking analysis of Poe’s short story, and it can show how one can examine a work of literature, especially the techniques used by the authors. This is why it should not be overlooked by the readers.
Evans, Walter. “The Fall of the House of Usher” and Poe’s Theory of the Tale.” Studies in Short Fiction 14.2 (1977): 137-144. ProQuest. Web.
The Theme of Love: “The Two Kinds,” “The fall of the house of usher,” and “Hill Like White Elephants.” Essay
The Theme of Love
There is love in the three short stories. In the “Two Kinds” there is some love between the mother (Suyuan) and daughter (Jing Mei) (Tan, 2006). In the “Hill’s Like White Elephants” by Ernest Hemingway some love abounds between the American man and the pregnant girl.
This story is about the way self-interest can ruin the love that people have nurtured for a long time. In “the fall of the house of usher” there is love between Roderick and his twin sister Madeline. The love has also been strengthened by their illnesses. This paper specifically discuses the theme of love in the three short stories. More especially, the way love is advanced or frustrated by the characters.
The “Two Kinds”
Love that is evidenced in this short story is parental love. This love is depicted in the way the mother prevails upon her daughter to succeed in her studies. This is depicted in the way her mother says, “If you work hard you can achieve your dream here in America,” she added, “of course, you could be prodigy too” (Tan, 2006, p. 132).
However, the daughter took her mothers advice literally. She responded, “You want me to be someone I’m not,” she continued, “I will never be the kind of daughter you want me to be.” “Only two daughters,” she shouted, “those who are obedient and those who can follow their mind, the only daughter who can live in this house is the obedient one” (Tan, 2006, p. 132).
In as much Jing-mei was feeling that her mother never loved her because she was dictating or forcing her to do things she did not like, their bond was strong (Tan, 2006). This is seen in the way she reacted when her mother passed on. Jing-mei started to recognize that what her mother was telling her was right.
The death of her mother functioned as an eye opener for her. In the story it indicated that “she looked back over the music that she had previously rejected and discovered something that she had never noticed” (Tan, 2006). The two songs were the “Perfectly Contented,” the “Pleading Child.” However, upon examining these songs, she realized that they were two different parts of just one song.
It is motherly love that her mother does not want her daughter to go through the sufferings such as—the misfortune of losing kids, the fear and privations of conflicts, as well as the challenges encountered when settling in a different culture (Tan, 2006). That is why her mother has taken the initiative to ensure that her daughter becomes a genius and standing tall amongst other children in America.
Apparently, from her conduct, she is not a genius. This is because geniuses have innate abilities and work only under slight guidance or supervision. As the author indicates, Jing-mei even refused to practice the piano. If she were a genius, this should have been something that would have fascinated her.
The fall of the house of usher
Love is evident in this short story (Poe, 2011). More especially is revealed in the way characters deal with situations or they way react when dealing with their spouses. In the poem “The Raven,” Poe’s love is reveled. Poe’s love for his beloved wife, Virginia, is revealed when she died.
It is indicated that Poe was traumatized by her demise. It is also indicated that her death became an everyday motif in his undertaking. This statement stresses the degree of love that the two had. In other words, it was almost inseparable and no of them could do without the other.
There is also brotherly love in this novel. There is a strong love between Roderick and his sister, Madeleine. It is indicated that Roderick “affectionately loved his sister” (p. 42). There affection is also based on the fact that they are twins. As the author puts, they have “an outstanding semblance” (p. 46). That is, they behaved in a way that someone could easily say they had one soul in two different bodies.
“Hill Like White Elephants”
This short story revolves around the theme of love and responsibility (Benson, 1990). The author has used abortion to show how much the American man loves her pregnant girlfriend named Jig. However, the love showed by the American man is selfish. That is, he does not extent it beyond his girlfriend. This is evidenced when the boyfriend says, “Ill stay with you.” He also added, “I do not want anyone else, but you” (p.161).
Basing on this utterance, it is also clear that the American man is taking advantage of the love he has for his girlfriend to convince her to have the abortion. However, the girlfriend does not actually feel the same as she loves both of them. This is evident from the way she turned him down saying, “Would you please stop talking” (p. 298). Generally, this shows that her love is not selfish and that she is the man’s superior in sensitivity, imagination and above all, capacity for love.
As it has been established in the discussion, the theme of love is espoused in the three novels. In the “Hill Like White Elephants,” both the American man and his girlfriend show love to each other but the pregnancy is threatening their peaceful affection. Their love is therefore selfish or situational.
In the “Two Kinds,” parental love dominates. The mother feels that she has the responsibility to guide her daughter to success. Her dominance of over her daughter is also threatening their affection. The daughter feels that she is not being given space to enjoy life like other kids. However, in the end, the daughter realizes that her mother was somehow right.
In the “fall of the house of usher,” is a sad story of two twins who share brotherly love. Their situation has actually brought them together more than ever. Poe also has strong love for his beloved wife, Virginia. This is evidenced when she died as it was hard for Poe to forget her both in his personal and work life.
Benson, J. (1990). New critical approaches to the short stories of Ernest Hemingway. Durham: Duke University Press.
Poe, E. (2011). The fall of the House of Usher. New York: Books of Wonder.
Tan, A. (2006). The joy luck club. New York: Penguin Books.
The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe: The Role of the Narrator Essay
The role of the narrator is usually considerable and crucial for any literary work and reader’s perception of the content. With the help of the narrator, the reader gets a wonderful opportunity to become involved into the events, to evaluate the conditions from the narrator’s perspective, and to realize why the idea of the story is developed in this very way.
The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe is one of the best and most captivating works, where much attention is paid to the role of the narrator and his participation in the events. In this short story, the narrator is an old friend of the main character, Roderick Usher, who decides to come to Usher’s house in order to support him and help to overcome his and his sister’s illness.
The role of the narrator of the story The Fall of the House of Usher is great indeed; his rationality and his ability to represent the events from the side of an immediate participant of the story and from the side of an observer, who notice changes in the house but still cannot comprehend the reasons of why these changes bother other characters.
As a participant. Without any doubts, Edgar Poe was one of those writers, who could create a story and make each reader being involved into its events. His narrators are unique and unpredictable, because they are able to notice each detail and pay special attention to each trifle.
From the very beginning, the narrator of The Fall of the House of Usher introduces the reader “soundless day in the autumn of the year, when the clouds hung oppressively low in the heavens” (Poe 109), where such a dark description aims to warn the reader and hint that the events will hardly cause laugh or tears.
The narrator performs the role of the participant of the story and suggests the reader to follow him and be involved into each step, breath, and look. This Poe’s decision makes this short story interesting to deal with for any reader and really remarkable in the world literature.
As a survivor and rationalist. Another significant role of the narrator in this horrific story is connected to his survival and the ability to describe the events in the Usher’s house rationally. “From that chamber, and from that mansion, I fled aghast” (Poe 128), the narrator tells. Such a fast decision of his proves that these events touch not only the body or mind, not perception of this world and own position in it.
In spite of the fact, that from the very beginning, the narrator seems to be a pure rationalist, who tries to present only rational explanations and see only rational events, and a person, who will never believe or accept some irrational things, he considerable changes his mind and tries to escape from everything, he has already got involved. Some time passes, and the narrator loses own voice of reason and admits that his fears and superstitions increase considerable.
However, the fact that the narrator is the only survivor tells that his life is not ended on this note, and he has to face many other challenges in his life; or, vice versa, he becomes trapped into the mystery of this house and his life would never be similar to the one before the event with the Usher’s house. The end of the story proves that narrator’s rationality has been lost in the madness of that house, and now, he faces numerous irrational challenges, which may influence his life considerably.
As a person, who can make mistakes. I truly believe that one more significant role of the narrators is directed to each reader in order to explain that even pure rational and smart people can make mistakes or think wrong because of numerous external factors.
From the very beginning, the reader observes the narrator as a rational, smart, and organized person, who is ready to present logical explanations to each even in his life. However, he makes a terrible mistake, when he agrees to Roderick Usher about the death of his sister and the decision to bury her alive.
Within a short period of time, the destiny of these two characters knocks to their door; it was “the lofty and enshrouded figure of the lady Madeline of Usher” (Poe 128). Such development of the events can be easily foreseen by the reader, but the narrator tries to postpone this climax as far as possible because of own rationality, and he perfectly does his job. However, the narrator is crushed by the madness of his old friend and cannot cope with all around irrationality.
All people make mistakes and suffer because of the consequences they cannot avoid; many writers try to describe this theme in their works in order to teach the reader and help him/her to improve this life. Edgar Poe’s narrator in The Fall of the House of Usher is one few characters, who may perform several roles simultaneously and do it very well that allows readers to accept this story as a significant and educative piece of writing.
To become a participant of the terrible events, to evaluate how one action may destroy several lives and the whole house, and to comprehend that some kind of mystery is somewhere near – these are that major purposes, the narrator of the story wants to achieve. The narrator’s role is really significant in The Fall of the House of Usher, and the reader should not only to worry about the destiny of the major characters but also to learn, to think, and to believe in faith and our predestination.
Poe, Edgar, A. The Fall of the House of Usher and Other Tales. New York: New American Library, Penguin Putman Inc., 1998.
The Fall of the House of Usher Essay
Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher is a short story which makes the reader feel fear, depression and guilt from the very first page and up to the final scene.
Having read the story up to the end, it seems that Usher and his sister are the most depressive people in the house and a simple guest, Usher’s friend who arrived becomes deeply depressed too because of the general conditions and mood in the house.
However, looking at the situation from another angle, it is possible to see that depressed and gloomy atmosphere in the house is much exaggerated because of the pessimistic vision of life by the narrator personally.
Therefore, having read a story attentively, it is possible to doubt the events which took place there and try to consider the situation from another point of view.
The Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher is a story about Usher and his family. The house is depicted as the symbol of the atmosphere and relations in the family. From the very beginning the house is shown as the place that gives “a sense of insufferable gloom” and “natural images of the desolate or terrible” (Poe, 2000, p. 1264).
The narrator sees “the blank walls… with an utter depression of soul… after-dream of the reveler upon opium” (Poe, 2000, p. 1264).
Describing the house, the protagonist sees “iciness, a sinking, a sickening of the heart”, and “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, 2000, p. 1265).
All these descriptions create the gloomy mood before the reader gets acquainted with those who live in the house. Therefore, seeing the health problems the inhabitants of the house have, the reader takes it for granted that the atmosphere in the house is depressive.
Reading of the books, listening to the music and even watching the paintings, in a word, everything the inhabitants of the house do puts the reader to consider the whole situation as depressive because of Usher and his sister.
However, if one takes a closer reading and considers the first lines of the story, everything may be changed.
“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 evening drew on” (Poe, 2000, p. 1264) is the first part from the Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher.
Have not seen the house, have not experienced the doom atmosphere there, the protagonist is already depressed. Therefore, this scene makes a reader doubt the events which took place in the story.
Hinzpeter (2012) makes an offer that “the first-person-narrator may have suffered from depression or some other sort of causeless melancholy from the very beginning and was therefore easily influenced by the gothic setting” (p. 10).
So, it may be concluded that the gothic setting makes the narrator discuss simple life of people who do not communicate with the outside world due to their diseases as a depressive and criminal. The events which happened in the story may be an imagination of the narrator.
However, one detail makes the reader doubt this statement, the “perceptible fissure” which is not too big at the beginning, and then the fissures are too big at the end and they cause the house fall.
Hinzpeter, K. (2012). Unreliable Narration in Poe’s ‘The Fall of the House of Usher’ – The Narrative Creation of Horror. New York: GRIN Verlag.
Poe, E. (2000). The fall of the house of Usher. In R. Bausch & R.V. Cassill (Eds.), The Norton Anthology of Short Fiction (pp. 1264-1277). New York: W. W. Norton.
Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher” Essay
The literary catalogue of Edgar Poe features bizarre, ghastly, and morbid works. Poe’s short stories are synonymous with gloomy themes and dark storylines. “The Fall of the House of Usher” and “The Cask of Amontillado” are some of Poe’s darkest stories.
Even when highlighting the bright aspects of life such as family and love, Poe does not abandon this dark-themed literary style. In “The Fall of the House of Usher”, Poe tells the story of a man who is visiting an old friend. The story is about the remaining two members of the Usher family.
In “The Fall of the House of Usher”, Poe portrays the Usher family as struggling to survive albeit in a gloomy manner that involves degradation, disease, and death.
“The Fall of the House of Usher” is a story that investigates the situations that surround a bizarre family. The Usher family is isolated from the rest of the population and it does not exhibit any signs of normalcy. In addition, the family’s existence has almost become a supernatural phenomenon.
Poe portrays the family as one that is surrounded by an eerie atmosphere that scares the narrator from the start. At the start of the story, the narrator is able to paint a vivid picture of the Usher’s family setting.
The narrator notes that 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… (he came) within view of the melancholy House of Usher” (Poe 2).
Poe’s story tells about the bond between Roderick Usher and his sister Madeline Usher. The unidentified narrator who has been called by Roderick to help diffuse the tension ends up being embroiled in the Ushers’ family affairs. The narrator is only able to survive the fall of the Usher family by running away.
To gain insight into Poe’s perspectives about family, one has to consider his family background. As a child, Poe witnessed several tragedies including losing both his parents before he was three years old. In addition to being orphaned at an early age, Poe’s brother died when he was young.
Rosalie, Poe’s younger sister suffered from a mental illness and subsequently became insane. Poe’s familial misfortunes continued when he was formally adopted by John Allan’s family. It is alleged that Poe was mistreated by his foster father when he was young.
As a young adult, Poe had to drop out from university due to his drinking and gambling. After his foster father managed to get Poe admitted to West Point University, Poe was consequently expelled. It is at this point when John Allan disowned Poe as his son. When Poe was 27, he married his first cousin who was thirteen years old at the time.
Roderick tells the narrator that he and his sister share a special kind of connection. Although this ‘special connection’ is not verified in the story, it alludes to some form of kinship. One assumption that can be made from Roderick’s claims is that he and his sister are involved in an incestuous relationship.
According to the narrator, the Usher family has been locked out from the outside world for generations. Moreover, the family did not welcome any outsiders to their house. Previously, Poe had been married to his first cousin and he was therefore privy to the dynamics of incestuous relationships.
However, instead of defending incestuous relationships the author is against these relationships. According to Poe, the doom that befalls the Usher family is closely tied to the destructive nature of incestuous relationships. When the members of the Usher family declined to allow outsiders into their house, they spelt their own doom.
The incestuous portrayal of the Usher family is Poe’s way of condemning the place of incestuous relationships in the society. The narrator does not feel at ease whenever he is at the confines of the Usher family home. Moreover, he is not able to decipher the nature of the relationship between Roderick and Madeline.
The dilapidated condition of the Usher household echoes the conditions of both Roderick and Madeline, the two surviving members of the Usher family. The family’s building exhibits visible cracks and fundamental weaknesses just like Roderick and Madeline.
In one instance, Roderick tells the narrator that the “mansion exhibits some sought of power over him” (Poe 2). The mansion symbolizes the integrity and legacy of the Usher family. Therefore, Roderick is claiming that the power of his family’s legacy has a great impact on his life.
This can be interpreted to mean that Roderick’s current state is as a result of factors that are beyond his control. The same logic can be used to understand Madeline’s state of health. At one point Roderick tells the narrator that even doctors cannot figure out Madeline’s ailment.
The mystery of Madeline’s disease prompts Roderick to bury her inside the house. By so doing, Roderick denies doctors the chance of investigating what killed her sister. However, it later emerges that Roderick’s actions were in bad faith.
The only family in this story is the Usher family. Consequently, the only family bond in the story is that of Roderick and Madeline. In a characteristic manner, Poe leaves the nature of Madeline and Roderick’s relationship as a mystery. Nevertheless, the actual nature of this relationship is the key to Poe’s portrayal of family.
While some speculate that Roderick and Madeline are in an incestuous relationship, others claim that the two are one person split into two. This latter proposition is supported by the fact that Roderick’s chances of survival wane after he buries her sister. Eventually, the two siblings’ existence comes to an end at the same time.
The relationship between Roderick and his sister can also be interpreted to be supernatural. Poe portrays the Usher family as having a relationship that is hard to define and one that borders on the supernatural. This portrayal might be the key to Poe’s core understanding of family. According to Poe, family is a complex unit that borders on the supernatural.
“The Fall of the House of Usher” is an eerie account of an isolated family. The house of Usher’s account resonates with Poe’s dark writing style. Poe portrays a family that is isolated from the rest of the world at its own peril. Even the strong bonds between the family members of the Usher family are not enough to save the family from doom.
Poe, Edgar Allan. The Fall of the House of Usher, New York, NY: Langworthy & Swift, 1903. Print.
“The Fall of the House of Usher” by Edgar Allan Poe Literature Analysis Research Paper
“The Fall of the House of Usher” is one of those novels whose grip on the readers will never get any lighter. It has stood the time test, proving that even a century later, a Gothic novel can stay just as fresh, stylish and breathtaking as it was when the book first came out. In addition, the novel seems to have become a “thing in itself,” which reveals even more to those who often revisit it. Although “The Fall of the House of Usher” is traditionally believed to be a timeless horror story and a representation of the deepest human fears, it can also be viewed both as a product of its time, i.e., the “gruesome engine” of the then jurisdiction (Spitzer 363), and an observation of a gradual descent into madness that “started first in the person of their author” (Robinson 80).
On the surface, it might seem that the famous “The Fall of the House of Usher” is nothing more than just another horror story to entertain the readers and make them feel the chills crawling down their spines. Indeed, the novel is written in Poe’s traditional manner, which was obviously growing popular at the time, and doubtlessly served its purpose, thrilling the readers into getting engaged with the plotline and sympathizing with the leading characters.
Though the plot could hardly be related to an average reader, the blurred border between the traditional Englishness and the nonsensical mystery creates an unusual effect, which makes the novel work. Because of the contrast between the realistic setting and the implications behind the plot, the novel makes one experience a rather weird sensation, which must be similar to observing something out of the ordinary in the broad daylight. Indeed, though rather gloomy, the castle with its dwellers looks as if it was carved out of the XIX century reality; likewise, the discovery that Roderick’s sister was buried alive was tragic, yet not surreal. The atmosphere that “The Fall of the House of Usher” is shot through with is, however, very mysterious, starting with the overall gloominess to Sir Roderick’s strange sensation.
It seems evident that Poem tried to create the world of thriller, thus, making the readers project their own fears onto the leading character. The first and the most evident, the picture of a “haunted house” (Spitzer, 1952, 353) must be mentioned. A common idea for a thriller, a haunted house is a generalized representation of fear; thus, Poe helps the audience relate to the leading character easier. To make the image even closer to his average reader, Poe places a secret inside the house.
From a certain angle, the fact that Sir Roderick keeps his sister’s corpse in the house can be interpreted as an attempt to hide a skeleton in a cupboard, which is typical for most people. Thus, the connection between the readers and the characters is made. The last, but definitely not the least, the scene in which the leading characters discover about the horrible death of Sir Roderick’s sister must be mentioned.
With the help of several words – not even sentences – Poe manages to make the audience feel the shock and horror of Sir Roderick, who makes the dreadful discovery: “Say, rather, the rending of her coffin, and the grating of the iron hinges of her prison, and her struggles with the coppered archway of the vault!” (Poe, 1839). With the help of this scene, Poe evokes every person’s nightmare, i.e., being buried alive. Thus, the “horror for its own sake” (Spitzer, 1952, 351) takes its toll on the audience. Portraying his deepest fears, Poe managed to make the readers stand in the leading character’s shoes and, thus, shared his fears with the audience. Hence, it can be considered that “The Fall of the House of Usher” is a psychological drama that “started first in the person of their author” (Robinson, 1961, 80).
However, the story can also be considered as a child of its era. Paying closer attention to some of the details of the story, one can easily see that Poe tried to cast the light on the “dark times” of the English judicial system, as well as on its deplorable state in general. Stressing that the gloomy settings are supposed to represent the “gruesome engine” of the XIX century jurisdiction (Spitzer, 1952, 363), Spitzer makes it clear that the specific atmosphere in the novel is supposed to represent “milieu and ambiance which were being formulated at his time” (Spitzer, 1952, 359).
However, depression and the problem of rotting moral values are not the only issues of the era touched upon in Poe’s work; the novelist also considered the problem of “sociological-deterministic ideas which were in the air in 1839” (Spitzer, 1952, 360). The idea of determinism can be traced in the novel rather easily, starting from the above-mentioned horrible death, i.e., being doomed to death in pain, to the fact that everything in the story, from the general atmosphere to the gothic look of the castle, indicated that the trouble is ahead.
That said, one must admit that “The Fall of the House of Usher” incorporated both the epitome of people’s personal fears and the XIX-century reality as the writer saw it. Making the fear of isolation in his audience go through the roof, Poe combined the dark, gloomy atmosphere of the epoch, making a witty comment about its moral corruption and decay, with the natural fears that haunt every single living being. Though people have learned to control these fears, Poe, with all his talent, makes these fears come into the open once again and go “far below meaningless horror or the simple dangers of isolation” (Robinson, 1961, 69).
Therefore, it can be considered that “The Fall of the House of Usher” is both Poe’s attempt to help the readers view the world with its ugliness through his own lens and at the same time reveal the readers his own psychological drama. Hence the thrilling duality of the “The Fall of the House of Usher” comes. On the one hand, it seems a satire of the political or, rather, judicial system of the time; on the other hand, Poe introduces the audience to the darkest corners of the narrator’s psychics, which bears a frightening resemblance with the fears of the readers.
With the help of the two new ways to view Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher,” one can discover a new layer of implied meanings in Poe’s novel. Still mysterious and uncharted fifteen decades after it was first published, “The Fall of the House of Usher” enthralls the readers, giving them an opportunity to escape into Poe’s world of triumphant madness.
Robinson, Arthur. “Order and Sentience in ‘The Fall of the House of Usher’.” PMLA 56.1 (1961): 68–81. Web.
Spitzer, Leo. A Reinterpretation of “The Fall of the House of Usher.” Comparative Literature 4.4 (1952): 351–363. Web.
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.