The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Poe

Gothic literature is one of the most horrifying, controversial, one of the first successful mass genres. Edgar Poe became the writer, who renewed the aesthetics of the Gothic literature, modernized it, introducing a whole new level to the category of horrible in the literature. Poe has established a new type of stories that gave rise to the literature of horror, as we know it today. Many of his short stories are worth attention, but let’s focus on his famous work The Fall of the House of Usher that is considered to be a perfect example of a literary work that is written with compliance of all Gothic tradition features.

The Fall of the House of Usher Setting

First of all, a destabilizing center of fear is present in the short story. It is the house of Roderick Usher. The narrator finds that place disturbing and horrible. He only observes it from the outside but already feels the dread, “What was it—I paused to think—what was it that so unnerved me in the contemplation of the House of Usher?” (Poe) Everything in the house itself is frightening and fearful – its “bleak walls”, “the vacant eye-like windows”, a few “decayed trees” around it, “a dark and quite lake”, “a pestilent and mystic vapor, dull, sluggish”. The detailed description of the setting – the house and its surroundings – compose an element of suspense. Such an exterior and location of the house are designed in order to prepare the reader for something horrible, to create a tension that can be followed through the whole story.  Even when the narrator enters that house of sadness, he continues to feel “an air of stern, deep, and irredeemable gloom hung over and pervaded all” (Poe).

The aberrant psychological state is placed in the figure of Roderick Usher. He convinces the narrator in his “nervous affection” that was caused by “a constitutional and family evil”.  Thus, here at once appears the element of ‘Evil’. Its presence in the story is supported by the family sickness that Usher is believed to have. The source of evil is the ancient mansion of his race. And the evil, as well as the death of his sister Madeline, are the sources of his suppressed trauma. Moreover, Roderick Usher believes that he is haunted by his family curse. He performed a ballad called The Haunted Palace that is a direct allusion to his own house. He somehow feels the presence of supernatural in the mansion, he feels that he should perish very soon, as his sister deceased with similar symptoms: “ a settled apathy, a gradual wasting away of the person, and frequent although transient affections of a partially cataleptic character” (Poe).The Fall of the House of Usher

The Fall of the House of Usher Analysis

The element of grotesque appears when the narrator reads the passages from the volume Mad Trist by Sir Launcelot Canning. He calls it “a favorite of Usher’s”. While reading, all the noises and sound described in a book are heard around the house. Proceeding to the ethos of violence, the murder of Madeline Usher should be mentioned. Roderick confesses in putting his sister in the tomb being alive. It is also a shocking and unexpected twist – the Gothic twist. The major element in the story is death. It appears throughout the story beginning with the dead trees, then Roderick’s fear and thoughts about his soon death, the death of lady Madeline, and finally, the death or fall of the house of Ushers. To conclude, the short story The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Poe can be entitled as the best of his works that precisely reflects the Gothic tradition and displays all the elements of Gothic literature.

The Fall of the House of Usher pdf is here.