English 11- Section 02
November 24, 2013
Setting in The Fall of the House of Usher
Dark Romanticism was very popular in 19th century America. It is literary genre that emerged from Romanticism and Transcendentalism. Tenets of Transcendentalism included finding God in nature, and seeing beyond the physical world. Dark romanticism examines the conflict between good and evil and the psychological effect of sin and guilt in the human mind. One very famous Dark Romantic writer is Edgar Allen Poe. Poe is very well known for his many poems and short stories. He is also well known for the recurring theme of death in his stories and poems. In the short story “The Fall of the House of Usher” by Edgar Allan Poe, setting is used to create the mood of the story, foreshadow future events, and to portray the characteristics of characters and show who they really are.
Edgar Allan Poe uses setting to create a melancholy and gloomy mood in the story. The story starts off with an unnamed narrator who is traveling on a “dull, dark and soundless day” (Poe 1). The story already has gloomy mood, without mention of the house of Usher. Before the narrator enters the house, he describes it as “inverted images of the gray sedge, and the ghastly tree-stems, and the vacant and eye-like windows” (Poe 2). The house of Usher looks run down, scary, and gloomy, like a haunted house. The setting in the first two pages creates this sad and scary mood throughout the rest of the story. Poe uses words such as “black, vacant, decayed, gray, gothic and sluggish” to create the atmosphere. This creates a very effective atmosphere in the entire story and the story revolves around the atmosphere in its entirety, showing that this is no ordinary house and there is evil involved.
Edgar Allan Poe uses setting to foreshadow events which come at the end of the story. In the beginning of the story, the narrator states that he sees a small crack in the House of Usher, “barely perceptible fissure, which, extending from the roof of the building in front, made its way down the wall in a zigzag direction” (Poe 2). The narrator also described the House of Usher as “both the family and the family mansion” (Poe 3). This foreshadows that both the Usher family and the actual building will fall. The fissure symbolizes the conflict between Roderick and Madeline. Poe does not describe Madeline and even the narrator did not know much about Madeline, but towards the end of the story, it is evident that there was something going on between Roderick and Madeline. Madeline was supposedly buried alive and comes out of her tomb and attacks Roderick and the narrator flees. The narrator claims that “there appeared to be a wild inconsistency between its still perfect adaptation of parts, and the crumbling condition of the individual stones” (Poe 3). The narrator’s use of the words “wild inconsistency” foreshadows that something bad will happen at the end of the story. The House of Usher...