"The Fall Of The House Of Usher" by Edgar Allen Poe

Essay by hoba November 2003

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Fall of the House of Usher

Very haunted house - anthropomorphised house. It has three levels: attic, main floor, cellar. It has structure but it also makes you question whether it is one or two houses. It promotes a feeling of gloom, like a black wall. The scene is attempted to be reorganised into a double. Doubling happens in order to escape desolation.

Family: Metions of questions and problems to do with descent and generation. Hint of incest is raised. Troubled family line. There is a return to the description of the setting which evokes another doubling. The house is so rotten that mushrooms are growing all the way through the house. Roderick Usher is as gothic as the mansion itself; he has thin lips, a finely moulded chin, and his hair is as soft as cobwebs. The house is like a head. The song expresses Roderick's relationship between the house and himself; it produces malign miasma.

There is a lack of differentiation between the living and the non-living. There is a mirroring between the house and the self. The house contains mirroring on another level. Madeline, Roderick's twin sister is suffering from a debilitating illness known as Catatonia, and she dies later on in the story. Roderick puts Madeline in a steel vault, locks the door, then places it in the cellar. The vault door opens and Madeline arises wearing white robes covered in blood.

Narcissism and Incest: Narcissist can't break out of the circle of self-love. Roderick won't look beyond his family circle for love. He loves his sister Madeline because her face resembles his own. Narcissism can involve aggression as well as love. Roderick Usher projects morbid self-absorbtion onto himself, which is then projected onto the house and Madeline. Madeline is suffering from the disease...