Plot Summary And Examination Of Character And Colflicting Worlds Of Realism And Supernatural In Edgar Allen Poe's The Fall Of The House Of Usher

1236 words - 5 pages

March 14, 2004In Edgar Allen Poe's short story "The Fall of the House of Usher" the narrator is forced to the very edge of sanity. He is presented with a mental tug-of-war between the realistic and imaginary, science and supernatural, and reality and fiction. Through examination of the plot summary and characters, including the narrator and the house itself of Poe's "The Fall of the House of Usher," the conflicting worlds of rationalism and madness are revealed.The setting of the House of Usher is set by the narrator as very dark and melancholy. Upon his approach to the mansion, he confronts the reader with a vast amount of gloomy imagery: "iciness, a sinking, a sickening of the heart" (Poe 714). He then reveals that the proprietor, a childhood friend named Roderick Usher, has invited him because of a " pitiable mental idiosyncrasy" that has invaded his mind (Poe 715). The narrator has learned that the Usher family, which has been well known through the years for many works of art, has "put forth, at no period, any enduring branch" (Poe 715). Also, the narrator is aware that the title "House of Usher" refers not only to the family's mansion but the family as well. Upon entrance to the house, the narrator is taken aback by his once attractive friend's appearance: " a cadaverousness of complexion; an eye large, liquid and luminous beyond comparison; lips somewhat thin and very pallid" (Poe 717). Usher suffers from fear driven hallucinations and deranged superstitions. His ultimate fear is he must "abandon life and reason together in my struggles with some fatal demon of fear" (Poe 717). The narrator is then informed of Usher's sister Madeline receives and is told by Usher that it will be his first and only glance of her alive. The narrator is shocked at the resemblance between Usher and his sister. While Usher suffers from a disorder of his mind, his sister's disease is more physical and described as a "gradual wasting away of the person" (Poe 718). For the days that follow the narrator and his friend entertain themselves by painting and reading together. The narrator vainly tries the rescue Usher from the dark and melancholy superstitions that plague him. The narrator soon after is informed that Madeline has passed away and agrees to aid Usher in the "arrangement of her temporary entombment" in one of the vaults within the house. In the process of this Usher removes the lid of the coffin momentarily, and the narrator is surprised not only by the blush in her cheeks but once again the stunning resemblance between her and Usher. He then is told by Usher that he and she were twins and shared "sympathies of a scarcely intelligible nature" (Poe 723). In the days that follow, the narrator notices that Usher has completely changed; "his ordinary manner had vanished" (Poe 723). He also seems to be "laboring with and oppressive secret" (Poe 723). On the seventh or eighth day after Madeline's death, while lying awake in bed, the narrator is startled by the...

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