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Summary of the Fall of House of Usher

  • Submitted by: ossian
  • on September 19, 2012
  • Category: Arts and Music
  • Length: 3,304 words

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Below is a free excerpt of "Summary of the Fall of House of Usher" from Anti Essays, your source for free research papers, essays, and term paper examples.

The first five paragraphs of the story are devoted to creating a gothic mood — that is, the ancient decaying castle is eerie and moldy and the surrounding moat seems stagnant. Immediately Poe entraps us; we have a sense of being confined within the boundaries of the House of Usher. Outside the castle, a storm is raging and inside the castle, there are mysterious rooms where windows suddenly whisk open, blowing out candles; one hears creaking and moaning sounds and sees the living corpse of the Lady Madeline. This, then, is the gothic and these are its trappings; one should realize by now that these are all basic effects that can be found in any modern Alfred Hitchcock-type of horror film, any ghost movie, or in any of the many movies about Count Dracula. Here is the genesis of this type of story, created almost one hundred and fifty years ago in plain, no-nonsense America, a new nation not even sixty years old.

Besides having a fascination for the weird and the spectral, Poe was also interested in the concept of the double, the schizophrenic, the ironic, and the reverse. He investigated this phenomenon in several stories, including "William Wilson" (a story which is analyzed in this volume), and so it is important to note that there is a special importance attached to the fact that Roderick Usher and the Lady Madeline are twins. Poe is creating in this story his conception of a special affinity between a brother and his twin sister; it is almost as if Poe were "inventing" ESP, for this accounts for the fact that Roderick Usher has heard the buried Lady Madeline struggling with her coffin and her chains for over three days before the narrator hears her. Unfortunately, modern readers tend to be a little jaded by the many gothic effects. ESP, for example, is rather old hat today as a gothic device, but in Poe's time, it was as frightening and mysterious as UFOs are today.

"The Fall of the House of Usher" exemplifies perfectly Poe's principle of composition that...

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