Daniel Hoffman says of the House of Usher: »It is no house at all, but a profound and intricate metaphor of the self.« Discuss.

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A sense of the supernatural and mystic surrounding the house pervades the narration from the very beginning. The house is personalised, as the narrator and Roderick attribute to it the ability to influence people (its inhabitants as well as the narrator). We are thus made to consider it as more than merely a part of the background for the story.

The first hint at the house being a metaphor of the self is given in the fact that the local peasants used the term "House of Usher" for both the mansion and the Usher family, as though they are inseparable. However, the foundation for Hoffman's statement lies primarily in the narrator's descriptions of the house and of Roderick, which are strikingly similar. The bleak, discoloured walls can be compared to the "ghastly pallor of [Roderick's] skin" (Poe 1994, p.80) and as fungi covering the walls find their counterpart in Roderick's hair (both are web-like), the eye-like windows find theirs in Roderick's "lustre of the eye" (Poe 1994, p.80).

Similarly, "the remoter angles of [Roderick's] chamber, or the recesses of the vaulted and fretted ceiling" (Poe 1994, p.80), which the narrator can not see, may be compared to the unknown parts of a person's mind. Furthermore, a certain inconsistency is mentioned in both descriptions ("a wild inconsistency between [the house's] still perfect adaptation of parts and the crumbling condition of the individual stones" (Poe 1994, p.79) and an inconsistency in Roderick's manner which arose from a mental disorder), thus making an explicit connection between the general state of the building and the mental state of its inhabitants. Here, we must note a tiny fissure the narrator notices in the structure of the house, hinting at Roderick's mental disintegration. The idea of a correlation between the two states is further...