A Deeper Meaning In Poe’s Characters

783 words - 4 pages

Although William L. Howarth stated that the characters in Poe’s works are undeveloped and inadequate, I believe that Poe is able to transform parts of himself into characters ad interpret a deeper meaning into the actions and behaviors of these characters. These abilities are illustrated in most of his characters. However, they are the most obvious in characters such as Lady Madeline and Roderick in “The Fall of the House of Usher,” Montresor and Fortunado in “The Cask of Amontillado,” and the raven in the famous poem, “The Raven.”
In Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher,” Poe uses characters like Roderick Usher and Lady Madeline to symbolize the mind and represent its internal battles for control. The house itself represents the mind, with both Roderick and Lady Madeline representing two conflicting parts of the mind. The parts of the mind are having an internal struggle for power. Roderick Usher represents the conscious part of the mind, which is defined in Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytic theory of personality as, “the aspect of our mental processing that we can think and talk about in a rational way.” Madeline represents the portion of the mind that the conscious mind wants to keep hidden from awareness. I believe this is the reason why Roderick pronounced Madeline dead without really examining her. This unconscious part of the mind still has an influence on behavior, however. I believe that the reason Roderick began to get ill is because Madeline’s illness is having an effect on his feelings and thoughts. Roderick and Madeline’s battle symbolizes the battle within the mind, and eventually the conscious and unconscious parts of the mind destroy each other. In the story, this is symbolized by Roderick and Madeline both “dying.” Their deaths represent the mind collapsing on itself, or the person going insane.
At the first look, “The Cask of Amontillado” just seems like a story about some guy burying another guy alive. However, if you take a closer look into the characters and their interpretations, you will begin to uncover a much deeper meaning. I think Montresor represents the rational, yet twisted, side of Poe, and Fortunado represents the ignorant, joking side of Poe. There are more conflicts in the story...

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