- Term Papers and Free Essays

The Fall Of The House Of Usher

Essay by   •  April 4, 2011  •  1,593 Words (7 Pages)  •  1,524 Views

Essay Preview: The Fall Of The House Of Usher

Report this essay
Page 1 of 7

Many short stories have many different ways of showing symbols. For example, in Guy De Maupassant's short story "Paul's Mistress", Paul sees a fisherman pull out a fish and pulls out the innards of the fish. In the text, Paul feels like that he is going to end up the same way the fish ended, with its innards ripped out of his body. (De Maupassant, 83) This is also foreshadowed and symbolized the way that Paul was going to die. Paul committed suicide by jumping into a river and drowning, therefore the boatmen "fished" him out of the river, with the same description of a fish. Edgar Allan Poe, However, likes his symbolism to be a gloomy and very dark sense of environment around his characters.

In "The Fall of the House of Usher" by Edgar Allan Poe, is a story told by an unnamed narrator that describes events in order of which the final two members of the house of Usher, Roderick Usher and his twin sister, succumb to the horrors that all of us face: disease and death. Throughout the story, Poe likes to use many similarities between the main characters and the surroundings to convey images of what is going to happen or what has already happened with or within the characters. For example, in the first lines of the story, "During the whole of a dull, dark, and soundless day in the autumn of the year, when the clouds hung oppressively low in the heavens..."(Poe, 69) The emotion that this line emits is of sorrow and depression. This begins the story with a foreboding of danger and of the unknown. The narrator, a long time friend of Usher, even felt an "insufferable gloom" (Poe, 70) when he even saw the house!

The Usher family mansion, the proprietor was Roderick, had some interesting qualities that contribute to the "eeriness" of the story, and some links in to the lives of Roderick and his sister. The narrator describes the house as:

I had so worked upon my imagination as really to believe that about the whole mansion and domain there hung an atmosphere peculiar to themselves and their immediate vicinity: an atmosphere which had no affinity with the air of heaven, but reeked up from the decayed trees, and the gray wall, and the silent tarn: a pestilent and mystic vapor, dull sluggish [...] and leaden-hued. (71)

To an even further description of the house, "the discoloration had been portion of the masonry had fallen;" (71) The mansion was surrounded by dead trees, a tarn that was dark and the narrator hints at that even the water inside the tarn could cause an epidemic disease. There is a contradiction of what the mansion looks like and what the house's condition really is. The discoloration of the mansion exhibits that the house is aged, but when the narrator advances towards the mansion, he notices that the masonry has not even fallen off the house. The masonry is symbolic of what is holding the Household of Usher together, it is strong, but is about to fall apart. The narrator also notices a fissure running from the roof of the mansion to the base. This symbolizes the break in the family by Roderick and his twin sister. The sister is stricken with a disease that, not even the family doctor, can figure out. In my personal opinion the disease was depression. In the text she is "wasting away"(74), having no sleep but when the narrator is present she is "hidden" in her room, and antisocial behavior. According to, the symptoms of depression coincide with the symptoms of what the sister had, so it is a probable "illness" that she had. This illness begets the trouble in Roderick Usher, hence the symbolism of the fissure in the mansion.

The interior of the mansion is akin to the exterior. The interior of the mansion was "gothic" (71), by the narrator's use words, and many other words that would describe a tomb. For example, the description of the interior explains that the narrator is confused:

While the objects around me - while the carvings of the ceilings, the somber tapestries of the walls, the ebon...floors, and the phantasmagoric armorial trophies...while I hesitated not to acknowledge how familiar was all this -I still wondered to find how unfamiliar were the fancies which ordinary images were stirring up. (72)

From this excerpt we can see that the narrator sees everything that he recognizes, but the narrator's mind informs him of a danger ahead. Upon entering the room of Usher, The narrator notices, "The general furniture was profuse, comfortless...and tattered. Many books and musical instruments scattered about, but failed to give any vitality to the scene." (72) The furniture, instruments and books are symbols of what the family was before Roderick. The family was very fond of music, parties and knowledge and this symbolizes that these objects no longer have any comfort in Roderick Usher's life. Now Roderick Usher, the proprietor of the mansion, has symbolism in his own description.

Roderick Usher sends his long-time friend, the narrator, a letter that states that he has been under some sort of "mental illness" (70), and a bodily illness that eventually will "kill" his sister. The letter is scripted in a demeanor that the narrator almost immediately sets on a trek to see his friend. Upon reaching the mansion of the Ushers, he is stricken with gloom. He even calls the Usher's Mansion "mansion



Download as:   txt (8.7 Kb)   pdf (107.6 Kb)   docx (11.9 Kb)  
Continue for 6 more pages »
Only available on