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A Critical Essay On Edgar Allan Poe’s The Fall Of The House Of Usher (1839)

2269 words - 9 pages

The twenty first century author Alexandra Iftodi Zamfir (1986- ) argues that ‘architecture and settings are more important in Gothic fiction than in any other type of literature.’ (Zamfir. 2011: 15). The execution and the nature of architectural space performs a significant role within the narrative structure of Gothic fiction as it creates and builds layers of imagery that signify the horrific and gloomy. This is illustrative of a building construction, one in which creates an atmosphere of suspense, a prominent aspect to the Gothic fiction genre. It was the Gothic writer Horace Walpole (1717-1797) who first illustrated in his Gothic novel The Castle of Otranto (1764) an example symbolic to the nature and power of architectural space explored through the composition of his own “house in Strawberry Hill, which was the most complete neo-Gothic structure of the time. His mansion, as the author admits, stands at the base of architectural design…shapes, decors, landscapes, were all under one form or another, elements of Gothic construction.” (Zamfir. 2011: 18).
This critical essay will explore and analyse the nature of Gothic architecture deployed as a vehicle of construction within the narrative structure of the American author Edgar Allan Poe’s (1809-1849) macabre and fictional prose The Fall of the House of Usher (1839). (Poe. 1987: 1). I shall present and argue how the artistic effects used in the narrative structure create an atmosphere of tension and suspense, through the exploration and investigation of Gothic architecture, demonstrating a close reading and psychological analysis from key passages of the text applying psychoanalytical examples from the nineteenth century theorist Sigmund Freud (1856-1939). (Chiriac: 1998-2011).
The Fall of the House of Usher was written by the American author and poet Edgar Allan Poe, it first featured as a Gothic short story in Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine in (1839) (Hayes. 2002: xvii). Poe was writing at a time of immense change to social, economic and cultural conditions following the technological advancements of the Industrial Revolution (1750-1850). (Montagna: 2006). His work of The Fall of the House of Usher could be said to show an impact of Western society’s internal and external struggle and psychological fragmentation; in a burgeoning world of technological evolution, which not only changed the exterior foundation of architectural structures from a machine based industry, but impacted on the interior psychological foundations of the human mind.
From a psychoanalytical view point, the title of The Fall of the House of Usher itself denotes an architectural and psychological space, the juxtaposition of which, the house is pitted against the fall, suggesting all that is warm, womb-like and familiar, opposes a complete collapse of all that is known. This represents the founding father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud’s notions of the uncanny (unheimlich). Freud argues that ‘the...

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