Fear in The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe
Edgar Allan Poe used fear to attract his readers into his gothic world. Poe realized that fear intrigues as well as frightens, and sew it as a perfect motif for many of his stories, particularly The Fall of the House of Usher. Poe emphasized the mysterious, desolate, and gloomy surroundings throughout the story to set up the fear that got the reader involved. Then he extended the fear to the characters in order to reveal the importance of facing and overcoming fear. Poe suggested in the story that the denial of fears can lead to madness and insanity. This has clearly shown through the weakening of Roderick Usher's mind and the resulting impact on the narrator of the story.
In the beginning of the story, Poe used images and descriptions to create a gothic picture of the Usher mansion and to set up a sense of fear and terror. The narrator looked "upon the mere house, and the simple landscape features of the domain - upon the bleak walls - upon the vacant eye-like windows - upon a few rank sedges" and was disturbed. Once he saw these depressing characteristics of the house, he had an idea as to what he would find inside.
Upon entering the dark and dismal house, the narrator was joined with Roderick Usher. Shocked by the appearance of his companion from early childhood, the narrator explained, "I gazed upon him with a feeling half of pity, half of awe. Surely, man had never before so terribly altered, in so brief a period, as had Roderick Usher!" Through conversation with his childhood friend, the narrator finally discovered the true source of Roderick's illness and sickly appearance. Usher said, "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." Roderick was overwhelmed by the fear he was experiencing, and it affected every aspect of his life. It was the constant presence of fear that had caused his illness. Roderick did not know how, or rather was unwilling to try to overcome his fears.
One of Roderick's fears was death. He was from a well-known and honored family, and he and his sister were the last of the long line of Usher descendants. His sister, Madeline, had been fighting a severe and long-continued illness for quite some time, which had added to much of Roderick's gloom. " Her decease, would leave him the last of the ancient race of the Ushers." Roderick seemed not only to fear the death of his sister and ultimately of himself, but also the uncertainty of the future. "I dread the events of the future, not only in themselves, but in their results. I shudder at the thought of any, even the most trivial incident, which may operate upon this intolerable agitation of soul."
The narrator of the story stated that Roderick's fear might have been linked directly to the house. He explained how he is "enchanted by certain superstitious impressions in regard to the...