Depicting Physical and Mental Illnesses in The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Poe

March 18, 2021 by Essay Writer

In The Fall of the House of Usher, Edgar Allan Poe writes of a sickly brother and sister that live in an old town. The story is scary and focuses on two similar levels. One of the levels of scariness is the psychological aspect of the story. The most evident is noticed just by reading on the outward, is the creepy atmosphere of the house, and the death of the main characters. The narrator makes this level of scariness very accessible by the diction and imagery that he uses throughout the story. The themes of isolation, madness, and fear become terrifying because they are able to transcend the story.

Initially, Before the separation led to the death of Rodrick, it may have led to his delusion. As we read the story we can clearly see that something is not right with Rodrick, something that is in his mind negatively catching his mood. The narrators say, ” In the manner of my friend I was at once struck with an incoherence—an inconsistency; and I soon found this to arise from a series of feeble and futile struggles to overcome a habitual residency—an excessive nervous agitation. His voice varied rapidly from tremulous indecision to that species of energetic concision—that abrupt, weighty leaden, self-balanced, and perfectly modulated guttural utterance, which may be observed in the lost drunkard, or the irreclaimable eater of opium” (298-299). This seems to be a psychological illness. Perhaps from all the time he spends in isolation. One other major theme in this story is fear. Using the effect of fear has on the narrator and Roderick, Poe proves that fear can be extremely powerful. In the story, the narrator states “melancholy House of Usher” (293). He’s referring to the mood in the house and the people in it. He’s emphasizing the atmosphere of the house. Sometimes a person looks perfectly fine but they might be completely daft.

Next, The House of Usher and Roderick may seem alright, but when looking deeper into the situation, there are more concerning problems than it seems. Everything that happens to the house is related to the people in the house. “A dull, dark, and soundless day in the autumn of that year, when the clouds hung oppressively low in the heavens, I had been passing alone, on horseback l throughout a singularly dreary tract of country and at length found myself”. (293) This evidence is showing that the surroundings in the house. By using describing words and descriptives phrases. “The crack in the house” (294), the house is falling, it represents that the family is ill. Roderick’s friend needs to look deeper and not just focus on the person Roderick used to be. The outside of a person can be an allusion if you pretend that they still are the same person as they’ve always been. Do not be deceived by the minor problems, for they are bigger problems in the making. Edgar writes, ‘From that chamber, and from that mansion, I fled aghast. The storm is still abroad and all its wrath as I found myself crossing the crossway” (297). This quote is explaining that Roderick’s friend was so overwhelmed with the gloom, terror, and illness that he felt like he was in a never-ending storm waiting for it to pass. He never took the time to visit his friend Roderick to help him, so he is so overwhelmed with what has happened.

Last, Human perversity is basically explained as human will and human corruption. One that caught my attention is when Roderick Usher buries his sister, Madeline, in the walls of the house. We can tell she struggled to get out, there was blood on her clothes and she was not dead when he buried her. We consider this to be human will. The environment that Poe creates in the story is one of melancholy and panic, the very “mansion of gloom” (296) expressing as a symbol of the pervasive evil of the area. From the beginning of the story, the narrator is ill at ease and shocked by his environment, even though he is unsure exactly why he feels this way. Poe also uses corruption in this house. The idea that Madeline came back to life to take revenge on her brother is corrupted. Then when the Usher House falls down on both Ushers giving Roderick just enough time to get out. That is one of the reasons why he was isolated, mad, and with fear.

In conclusion, Poe presents the dark, soundless lonely house as he describes the characters too. This story is mostly focused on the scariness theme of the house and the sickness moods of the characters. Death is involved in this story. Giving us figurative details that lead us to the ending. An ill man whose fears lead themselves through his supernatural family. Which explores both physical and mental illness, and the effect that such afflictions have on the people closest to those who are sick. The real interpretation is that much of the seeming madness of the main character does turn out, in fact, to be the cause of truly supernatural events. That is that he’s not insane, his home is haunted and his sister is alive. In reality, his craziness is really unreal.

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