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Examine the overtones of Gothic horror in Edgar Allen Poe's tale The Fall of the House of Usher

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Introduction

Examine the overtones of Gothic horror in Edgar Allen Poe's tale The Fall of the House of Usher The Gothic genre is an English genre that was most popular in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. It is characterised by an atmosphere of mystery and terror. In order for a novel or poem to be considered as gothic, it must include some of the vital ingredients of the gothic genre. These characteristics include- the use of the supernatural (ghosts/spirits etc), use of dark and vast imagery, the theme of revenge (notably, the dead seeking justice), and a sense of foreboding (giving a hint of what's to come later). "The Fall of the House of Usher", by Edgar Allen Poe, can be described as a Gothic novel in that it demonstrates many gothic characteristics, specifically in terms of setting and character. In gothic novels, the setting of a haunted house or castle is often used. It is usually an old, dark and decaying castle plagued by a curse. The motif of a haunted house is used prominently in the "The Fall of the House of Usher", and indeed the castle is the main setting of the story, and the centre of activity. ...read more.

Middle

Descriptions of the house's interior used when the narrator ventures into the house for the first time describes many secret passageways "sombre tapestries" and the " Black oaken floor". This frequent use of the colour black is also an obvious attribute to the gothic genre. Another favourite horror device of the gothic novel finds a person trapped, for example, being hidden away in a dark cell. This is evident in Poe's tale as Madeline is buried alive in a coffin- this is the ultimate entrapment. When talking of the coffin in which lady Madeleine was entombed in they describe it as "small, damp and entirely without means of admission for light; lying at great depth". This use of confinement helps to achieve an almost suffocating effect and is extremely effective in creating fear on the readers' part. Now I am going to discuss Poe's use of character in the tale, and examine how it adheres to the gothic genre. Characters in the gothic novel are often very strange and eccentric. This is evident throughout when the narrator describes Roderick's "Mad hilarity in his eyes" when Madeleine breaks from her tomb and his intricate song of imaginary things he seems to be in his own world and distances himself from the narrator and therefore the reader. ...read more.

Conclusion

There are many examples- for example-As Roderick and Madeline are identical twins they obviously look very alike, they both suffer severe illnesses which affect there daily lives making them house bound this is interesting as they are spending so much time in the house the houses curse seems to affect them greatly even leading to their eventual death! The fact that lady Madeline and Roderick die at the same time could be caused by the fact the people believe that twins can feel what the other is feeling be that mentally or psychically. But there are many examples of them being opposites Roderick is male and Madeline is female she is strong he's weak this is interesting as it contradicts my original theory. REMEMBER QUOTES. In conclusion to Edgar Allen Poe's use of the typical traits of the gothic genre is rather obviously used in the fall of the house of usher. These overtones seem to add a sense of the unknown to the novel although gothic or horror novels are known for their predictability it is used effectively making the reader feel isolated from Roderick and Madeleine and closer to the narrator this is interesting as the reader actually knows more about the usher family than the narrator which usually causes the reader to support the person they know more about. Lauren McMillan GCSE English coursework ...read more.

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