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"The Fall of the House of Usher" - A Critical Analysis

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Introduction

"The Fall of the House of Usher" A Critical Analysis There are three significant characters in this story: the narrator, whose name is never given, Roderick and Madeline Usher. The narrator is a boyhood friend of Roderick Usher. He has not seen Roderick since they were children; however, because of an urgent letter that the narrator has received from Roderick which was requesting his assistance in alleviating his malady, the narrator makes the long journey to the House of Usher. Roderick and Madeline Usher are the sole, remaining members of the long, time-honored Usher race. This might suggest incestuous relationships throughout the Usher family tree. When Madeline supposedly "dies", and is placed in her coffin, the narrator notices "a striking similitude between brother and sister...." It is at this point that Roderick informs his friend that he and the Lady Madeline had been twins, and that "sympathies of a scarcely intelligible nature had always existed between them." ...read more.

Middle

His voice varied rapidly from a tremulous indecision...to that...of the lost drunkard, or the irreclaimable eater of opium" (Poe, 667). These are "the features of the mental disorder of [the narrator's] friend" (Poe, 672). Roderick's state worsens throughout the story. He becomes increasingly restless and unstable, especially after the burial of his sister. He is not able to sleep and claims that he hears noises. All in all, he is an unbalanced man. The narrator appears to be a man of common sense. He seems to have a good heart in that he comes to help a friend from his boyhood. He is also educated. He observes Roderick and concludes that his friend has a mental disorder. He looks for natural scientific explanations for what Roderick senses. Criticizing Roderick for his fantasies, the narrator claims that Roderick is "enchained by certain superstitious impressions in regard to the dwelling which he tenanted" (Poe, 668). ...read more.

Conclusion

He, in the end, escapes from the illness because he flees from the house. According to David H. Lawrence "The Fall of the House of Usher" can be interpreted as "a detailed account of the derangement and dissipation of an individual's personality" (Lawrence, 83). The house itself becomes the "symbolic embodiment of this individual"(Lawrence, 84). The crack in the decaying mansion, which is noted by the narrator near the beginning of the story, represents "an irreconcilable fracture in the individual personality" (Lawrence, 84-85). Roderick represents the mind, while the portion of personality that we refer to as the senses (hearing, seeing, touching, tasting, and smelling) is represented by Madeline. During the course of the story, Roderick tries to detach itself from his twin, Madeline. This can be seen in Roderick's aversion to his own senses as well as by his premature entombment of his twin sister. Living without Madeline, Roderick's condition deteriorates. He begins to suffer from an "...intolerable agitation of the soul". At the end of the story, Madeline returns from her tomb to claim Roderick, "a victim to the terrors he had anticipated". ...read more.

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