What would you like to do?

Gothic style in The Fall of the House of Usher?

already exists.

Would you like to merge this question into it?

already exists as an alternate of this question.

Would you like to make it the primary and merge this question into it?

exists and is an alternate of .

Edgar Allen Poe's autobiographical short story is the quintessential haunted house story featuring dreary scenes, mysterious sicknesses and untimely deaths. The vagueness of the story is the main part of its terror with its unidentifiable Gothic elements. It is not clear to the reader when or where the story takes place. Poe instead describes dark barren landscapes and inclement weather to set the mood. All the reader knows and understands is they are alone with the unnamed author and neither knows why.
The unnamed author describes his mind and personality as he rides toward the somber house. He meets his own insanity, superstitions, and horror when he describes his boyhood friend Roderick Usher. Poe asks the reader to question Roderick's decision in contacting the unnamed narrator in his time of need as well as the unnamed narrator's response. Poe contrasts the standard form of the gothic tale, with a plot of inexplicable, unexpected interruptions. The short story begins without a reason for the narrator's arrival at the house and this uncertainty drives this short story's plot, which blurs into the real and fantastic.
Roderick Usher shows his sanity slipping when he tells the narrator he dreads the future struggle with the fatal demon of fear. The unnamed narrator is shocked to see Roderick Usher has a striking resemblance to his sister Madeline, Poe's late wife. Poe refers to his late wife's eventual death when he mentions Roderick's complexion as the mockery of a faint blush, and gives a sense of foreboding to the story as it leads to the end when Madeline's return from the grave is found as an unexplained mystery.
Poe creates a sense of claustrophobia as the unnamed narrator is caught by the lure of Roderick and cannot escape unless the house collapses. The characters in the short story are trapped and cannot move freely because of the house's structure. This image gives the house a monstrous character of its own that controls the fate of the unnamed narrator and Roderick Usher. Poe masterly creates confusion between the living and inanimate objects by creating the physicality of the house of Usher.
The mansion is used as a metaphor, however it is described as a real house. The narrator not only gets trapped inside the mansion, but the reader learns that his confinement involves the biological fate of the Usher family. The Usher has no long lasting attachments which means that the Usher's genetic transmission has occurred incestuously in the house. The peasantry confuses the mansion with the Usher family because of the physical structure dictated to the genetic patterns of the family.
The claustrophobia of the mansion continues as it affects the characters relationships for example the unnamed narrator realizes to late that Madeline is Roderick's twin sister, which happens when both men prepare to entomb Madeline. The confined and cramped burial tomb metaphorically affects the features of the characters. The twins are very similar, because they do not develop as free individuals. Madeline is buried before her time because of her similarity to her brother. Roderick is the coffin, which holds her identity.
The reader discovers that Madeline suffers from problems, which effected woman in nineteenth century literature. She invests all of her identity to her body, whereas Roderick possesses the power of intellect. Madeline holds an almost superhuman power in the story when she successfully escapes her tomb. This counteracts Roderick's weak, nervous and immovable attitude.
It is said that Madeline is only a figment of Roderick's and the unnamed narrator's imagination; that she doesn't really exist. However, Madeline still proves detrimental to the symmetry and claustrophobic logic of this short story. She suffocates Roderick keeping him from seeing himself as different from her and completes this tactic by attacking and killing Roderick in the end.
1 person found this useful
Thanks for the feedback!