- Term Papers and Free Essays

Literary Analysis Of Poe's "The Fall Of The House Of Usher"

Essay by   •  December 11, 2010  •  1,057 Words (5 Pages)  •  2,184 Views

Essay Preview: Literary Analysis Of Poe's "The Fall Of The House Of Usher"

Report this essay
Page 1 of 5

Fear is a human characteristic that everyone must struggle with. This theme is a universal one which everyone can relate to however, it is also a difficult one to capture within a short story. Edgar Allan Poe is one of the few classic writers who are able to achieve this feat. His story "The Fall of the House of Usher" is centred around the central idea of the impact of fear on one's life. His parable talks about facing your fears and the self-destruction that can come by allowing fear to run your life. Through his Gothic romantic style of writing, Poe includes elements such as a dark atmosphere, a mysterious setting, and symbolic characters in order to highlight the power and effect of fear on one's life. "The Fall of the House of Usher" addresses the conflict of fear by exposing the fear of the unknown, of restriction and claustrophobia, and of being outside one's comfort zone

The story begins by introducing the reader to the narrator, who remains unnamed. The narrator is on a journey to the home of his old friend Roderick Usher who sends word that he is feeling ill. This journey induces fear for the narrator because he must face the fear of the unknown as he travels through an unknown land for a somewhat unknown reason. Also, it is very mysterious that the Usher's, with their great fear of outsiders, would invite the narrator into the home. The narrator himself is an unknown to the reader, with very little description given, not even his name. This ambiguity sets the tone for the story, and is followed up by the description of the setting.

The narrator's journey begins on a "dull, dark, and soundless day" (16). The reader finds them self alone in this haunted space with the narrator approaching the melancholy house surrounded by murky ponds and decayed trees. There is a small crack from the roof to the ground in the front of the building and there are signs of decay. Some of the individual stones are disintegrating, however, "beyond this indication of extensive decay, however, the fabric gave little token of instability" (18). Poe uses this dark imagery and gloomy setting to create an atmosphere that induces fear. This adds to the challenge of fear by putting the characters in surroundings outside of their comfort zone.

Upon entering the house, the narrator finds the inside of the house to be in much of the same state as the outside. The dark, narrow passageways create a sense of claustrophobia, which is a large fear faced by many people. Due to the structure of the house, characters are unable to move and act freely. Also, the narrator feels trapped not only because of the physical structure of the house, but also because of his obligation and unexplainable curiosity towards Roderick. "At the request of Usher, I personally aided him in the arrangements for the temporary entombment" (25). His actions and thoughts are constricted by Roderick's actions. This is shown especially when the narrator and Roderick are burying Madeline in the tomb. The confined setting of the burial tomb not only enhanced the feeling of claustrophobia, but also symbolised how they both felt fear and restriction because of their actions. Associated with claustrophobia is also a feeling of isolation. This is shown in the act of sealing Madeline in the tomb, Roderick living in a house with no other visitors, and the narrator feeling he is unable to leave the house.

Roderick's character most exemplifies the effect of fear on one's life. He is described as being paler and less energetic than he had been. "The now ghastly pallor of the skin, and the now miraculous lustre of the eye, above all things startled and even awed me" (19). Roderick is in an awful state and is afraid of everything, including his own house it appears. He tells the



Download as:   txt (6.1 Kb)   pdf (87.2 Kb)   docx (10.8 Kb)  
Continue for 4 more pages »
Only available on
Citation Generator

(2010, 12). Literary Analysis Of Poe's "The Fall Of The House Of Usher". Retrieved 12, 2010, from's-The-Fall-Of-The/20005.html

"Literary Analysis Of Poe's "The Fall Of The House Of Usher"" 12 2010. 2010. 12 2010 <'s-The-Fall-Of-The/20005.html>.

"Literary Analysis Of Poe's "The Fall Of The House Of Usher".", 12 2010. Web. 12 2010. <'s-The-Fall-Of-The/20005.html>.

"Literary Analysis Of Poe's "The Fall Of The House Of Usher"." 12, 2010. Accessed 12, 2010.'s-The-Fall-Of-The/20005.html.