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Fall of the House of Usher

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Fall of the House of Usher

The Fall of the House of Usher is definitely a piece written in Poe's usual style; a dark foreboding tale of death and insanity filled with imagery, allusion, and hidden meaning. It uses secondary meanings and underlying themes to show his beliefs and theories without actually addressing them. It convinces us without letting us know we're being convinced, and at the same time makes his complex thoughts relatively clear.

On the literal level the story is about a man (the narrator) visiting his boyhood friend who is suffering from “acuteness of the senses”. His friend, Roderick Usher, sent for him in hopes that his friend might afford him solace. Though his mental problems were a large part of his sorrow, most of it was due to his sister's illness. Much of the narrator's time at The House of Usher was spent reading philosophical books with Usher,

apparently a great hobby of them both. One evening Usher came to the narrator and informed him “that the lady Madeline [Usher's sister] was no more.” He also informed him of his intentions of keeping her corpse for a fortnight in one of the many vaults in the house. Having no wish to oppose his wishes, the narrator helps him entomb the body at Usher's request. The mood in the house has worsened, and Usher is no longer himself. The narrator finds him ranting about the storm, and he explains to him its only a natural phenomenon, and turns to their earlier hobby of reading to distract him. He chooses the Mad Trist, which is apparently a story completely created by Poe (and is definitely in his style). It is a story of a Hero, Ethelred, who forcibly enters the home of a hermit and finds a dragon in his place. During his telling of the story, the narrator hears noises but dismisses them as coincidence. As he continued the sounds began to get louder, and eventually Usher speaks, “yes, I hear it, and have heard it ... We have put her living in the tomb!” At this point the reader still thinks Usher is mad and is hearing his sister in death (as did the character in The Tell Tale Heart), but soon that theory is disproven when the lady Madeline does indeed still live and enters the room killing her brother. The narrator flees at the sight of this and soon after the House of Usher collapses.

Another use of upper current meanings in Poe's tale is in the many stories the two read. They seem to suggest a theme of an evil presence. They are mostly based on topics like death, heaven and hell, and similar philosophical works. These stories, and the poem as well, only reinforce the situation Usher is trying to escape from.

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