March 14, 2004
In Edgar Allen Poe's short story "The Fall of the House of Usher" the narrator is forced to the very edge of sanity. He is presented with a mental tug-of-war between the realistic and imaginary, science and supernatural, and reality and fiction. Through examination of the plot summary and characters, including the narrator and the house itself of Poe's "The Fall of the House of Usher," the conflicting worlds of rationalism and madness are revealed.
The setting of the House of Usher is set by the narrator as very dark and melancholy. Upon his approach to the mansion, he confronts the reader with a vast amount of gloomy imagery: "iciness, a sinking, a sickening of the heart" (Poe 714). He then reveals that the proprietor, a childhood friend named Roderick Usher, has invited him because of a " pitiable mental idiosyncrasy" that has invaded his mind (Poe 715).
The narrator has learned that the Usher family, which has been well known through the years for many works of art, has "put forth, at no period, any enduring branch" (Poe 715). Also, the narrator is aware that the title "House of Usher" refers not only to the family's mansion but the family as well. Upon entrance to the house, the narrator is taken aback by his once attractive friend's appearance: " a cadaverousness of complexion; an eye large, liquid and luminous beyond comparison; lips somewhat thin and very pallid" (Poe 717). Usher suffers from fear driven hallucinations and deranged superstitions. His ultimate fear is he must "abandon life and reason together in my struggles with some fatal demon of fear" (Poe 717). The narrator is then informed of Usher's sister Madeline receives and is told by Usher that it will be his first and only...