Gothic setting and characters in Edgar Allan Poe's "The Fall of the House of Usher".

Essay by cuca7890University, Bachelor's May 2003

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"During the whole of a dull, dark, and soundless day in the autumn of the year, when the clouds hung oppressively low in the the shades of the evening drew on...with the view of the melancholy House of Usher" (Pg. 1534). With these words, Edgar Allan Poe begins one of his most famous works, The Fall of the House of Usher, a tale of horror, a horror implemented through Poe's gothic description of his settings and his characters.

The narrator, a childhood companion of Roderick Usher's, arrives to find an old mansion with "the re-modelled and inverted images of the gray sedge, and the ghastly tree-stems, and the vacant and eye-like windows" (Pg. 1535). His first view of the house comes in a large pool of tarn, or swampy, dead matter, surrounding the house. The narrator, who remains nameless throughout the story, immediately says that he is filled with "a sense of insufferable gloom" (pg.1535).

This "sense" foreshadows the dark, dreary conditions to come in the story.

The narrator, upon entering the house, sees a typically furnished 19th century dwelling. However, he becomes confused as to why familiar objects such as the tapestries on the wall and the tall archways make him fell even more superstitious. He even describes the suits of armor on the walls as having a ghost or phantom like quality. "The somber tapestries of the walls [and] the ebon blackness of the floors...(Pg. 1536) and the "dark, tattered draperies" (Pg. 1540) all add to the eerie effect that Poe establishes for his reader. The narrator sees this setting as the cause of the mental illness that Roderick told his about in the letter that summoned him there.

When the narrator first meets his host, Usher greets him very warmly, and the narrator sits with...