30 April 2014
The Fall of The House of Usher Literary Analysis
The Fall of The House of Usher written by Edgar Poe and published in 1839 is your typical Gothic tale designed to evoke fear and other unsettling feelings. It is also a goldmine of symbols, allusions, allegories, interpretations, themes, and other analytical perspectives of which to view the story.
Poe was important in Gothic literature in the 19th century. He focused more on the psychological aspect of the characters rather than the traditional elements of the Gothic tales, and believed that terror and fear were valid literary subjects (Timmerman 235). The Fall of The House of Usher is widely regarded as his best story, and one of the best Gothic stories of all time (Timmerman 243).
First off, the House of Usher is a symbol that represents both the physical house and the Usher heritage (Cook 16). Also, the upside-down reflection of the house in the lake symbolizes the backwards thinking of Roderick and Madeline, such as their isolation and unhealthy relationship (Cook 23).
There is a clear connection between Roderick’s art and the events that occur. Such as the underground painting, which parallels with Madeline being buried underground. Also there’s the song about the decline of a house, which is ongoing the entire story.
It is possible that Roderick can predict the future successfully (Spitzer 354). Or perhaps he causes the things he says to happen. When he screams that Madeline is at the door, sure enough it flies open and there she is. In addition, he predicts he shall die from fear, in this quote:
To an anomalous species of terror I found him a bounden slave. "I shall perish," said he, "I must perish in this deplorable folly. Thus, thus, and not otherwise, shall I be lost. I dread the events of the future, not in themselves, but in their results. […] I have, indeed, no abhorrence of danger, except in its absolute effect--in terror. In this unnerved—in this pitiable condition--I feel that the period will sooner or later arrive when I must abandon life and reason together, in some struggle with the grim phantasm, FEAR" (Kennedy 401).
This prediction, of dying from fear, also turns out to be true. Roderick goes on to explain that he is not afraid of death nor pain, but only fear. It is ironic that his fear of fear will ultimately be his demise, of all the things that he could die from in the creepy house in which he resides. Poe’s foreshadowing almost becomes a habit and one starts to expect every hint or expressed fear as something that will eventually become reality, building up anticipation and suspense.
There is a lot of imagery in this story, specifically where the mansion is described. It was once magnificent and fancy, but is now a dirty, rotting building. Since Poe connects “House of Usher” to both the family and the actual house, it makes sense that descriptions of the mansion could also apply in some way, to...