Poe's “The Fall of the House of Usher” is considered to be a Dark Romantic text. Dark Romanticism began in the mid-nineteenth century as a negative reaction to the popular Transcendental Movement, a rising force in literary circles. Authors like Poe found transcendentalism to be a laughable concept which was absurdly optimistic and unrealistic. The anti-transcendentalists made it a point to make a mockery of transcendental beliefs in their work; hence, the Dark Romantic genre began.(Quinn)
When Edgar Allan Poe wrote his short story “The Fall of the House of Usher”, he was creatively mocking traditional transcendental beliefs. Poe displays his scorn for transcendentalism in many different ways throughout this piece. Rather than the transcending happenings that build to a happy ending that is characteristic of transcendentalism, this work features a dreary setting with a plot that becomes increasingly ominous as the story develops...
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... A writing genre whose existence is based on a reaction against another genre partly owes its existence, a priori, to the original genre. And the primary transcendental motif of the primacy of spirituality over flesh is an understated plot device in Poe's story. Though clearly featuring Poe's scorn towards several defining facets of the transcendental movement, “The Fall of the House of Usher” simultaneously bears the mark of one of the most overarching themes of transcendental thinking.
Poe, Edgar A. "The Fall of the House of Usher." The Heath Anthology of American Literature. 6th edition. B. Boston, MA: Wadsworth, 2009.
Quinn, Arthur Hobson. Edgar Allan Poe: A Critical Biography. New York: Coopers Square Publishers, 1969.
Voloshin, Beverly. “Transcendence Downward: An Essay on 'Usher' and 'Ligeia.'” Modern Language Studies. 1988.
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