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Critical Essay On, "The Fall Of The House Of Usher."

1249 words - 5 pages

He approached the house wearily, noting with growing horror its advanced, albeit subtle, state of decay; however the labyrinth of phantasm that composed its interior belied the crumbling edifice...
Poe's gothic tale has inspired generations of readers with his unique style of rich detail and sheer horror. In, “The Fall of the House of Usher” one finds the house mysteriously connected with its inhabitants. As they slowly fall into a state of decay, both mental and physical, so also does its structure weaken, eventually collapsing into the tarn in which it was standing, as its tenants fall prey to the strain of body and mind. Without them, the house cannot stand.

In the beginning of the story, Poe describes the bleak condition of the house, surrounded by twisted trees and sitting in a dark tarn. Its vacant, eyelike windows evoke a sense of horror at what might be watching, while its inhabitants slowly succumb to the shifting aura of phantasm that encompasses both edifice and interior. In his description of Roderick, Poe portrays a man in a highly nervous state, barely able to contain the inner terror he experiences at every turn. The web-like, aerial, almost unhuman hair is comparable to the webs of fungi on the walls of his house, and his deteriorating health can be traced to the crumbling of its walls. From the beginning, it is made clear that there is more than one tie linking the deteriorating mental and physical condition of the inhabitants to the slow decay of its foundations.

During his stay at the house of Usher, the narrator finds himself unable to draw his friend out of the abyss of misery in which he has enshrouded himself, both figuratively and literally. Admitting to his sister's approaching death being one of the factors of his excitable mental state, Roderick has already described his sensory deterioration – being unable to tolerate most noises, light, smells, and any but the most insipid of foods. He spends his days painting the most bizarre pictures, like that of a deep tunnel lit from within by invisible sources of colored light; playing pieces he composes extemporaneously on his guitar, then reciting to these melodies incoherent lyrics revealing a mind in torment. As his sister's condition worsens and finally is ended by her death, he becomes almost maniacal in his pursuit of the fantastic. Both the narrator and Roderick are horrified by her appearance of life, even triumphing over her disease, and wonder as they lock her in an old keep for a fortnight. Poe does not fail to inspire within the reader a sense of awe in her death, nor does he spare the lurid details of the terror lurking within this burial scene of the lady Madeline. And so it is the beginning of the end.

Soon Roderick takes to pacing all about the dark house, his mental condition deteriorating no less rapidly than his physical; and even that has nearly reached its last stages of deterioration. “The pallor of his countenance had assumed, if possible, a...

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