Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Fall of the House of Usher Essay

The Fall of the House of Usher Essay

Edgar Allen Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher demonstrates romanticism throughout the entire story. This story, like all of his short stories is written in Gothic literature. First of all, the tone is gloomy, dark and threatening. Then, the events that take place are strange, melodramatic and evil. Romanticism is included because imagination becomes a reality and a cultivation of emotion and sensation takes place.

The setting of this story is a big, old, dark, and scary house. Poe uses the setting to enhance the plot. Living in the house is its owner Roderick Usher. Roderick is experiencing physical and emotional illness, and he and his sister (whom also is ill with a rare disease) are the last line of the Usher family. The narrator, whom is a good friend of Roderick, moves into the house to add more excitement into the story. Both the narrator and Roderick question whether the house and its vicinity are naturally unhealthy. The setting itself seems to infect the characters.

To me, the House and the family that lives inside of it is the same thing. This adds to the Romanticism because the house is falling just as the family is.

Gothicism is also evident because the treatment of a lady (Madeline Usher) is gruesome and violent.

With Romanticism and Gothicism obvious in the story, all that is left is the Sublime. The Edmund Burke quote, “Darkness is more productive of sublime ideas than light,” fits The Fall of the House of Usher perfectly. Although all Edgar Allen Poe stories are dark and scary, this one is a great example the Sublime. When Madeline gets buried alive and comes back to Roderick bloodstained and broken, and Roderick dies of fear, the sublime of the story is complete.

The illness of this story, as well as all Poe stories demonstrate the theme of science verses superstition. The dramatic adventure, high-flown sentiments, exotic setting, and cult of the past, build up the Romanticism included in the story. The physical collapse of the house at the end makes the reader wonder whether the entire story is a supernatural phenomenon or whether it is merely a tale of scientific coincidence. Nobody knows for sure if Madeline actually fought her way out of the tomb for several days, or if she is a ghost that both men see. Poe does a terrific job of including the sublime into this story.

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