Analysis of The Fall of the House of Usher

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In The Fall of the House of Usher, Edgar Allan Poe writes of a sickly brother and sister that live in an old estate, and a narrator’s account of the Ushers’ final days. The story is scary on two different levels. The first and most obvious that is noticed just by reading on the surface is the creepy atmosphere of the house and death of the main characters. Poe makes this level of scariness very accessible by the diction and imagery that he uses. The second level of scariness is the psychological aspect of the story. The themes of isolation, madness, and fear become terrifying because they are able to transcend the story; they are real, and they could quite possibly affect us. The first, most basic, and most easily recognizable level of “scary” is seen throughout the story, but especially in the opening paragraphs. With his choice of imagery and diction, Poe practically tells the audience that they are in a horror story and should feel scared. The first sentence alone is filled with diction that would make even the most basic reader shudder. Poe writes, During the whole of a dull, dark, soundless day in the autumn of the year, when the clouds hung oppressively low in the heavens, I have been passing alone, on horseback, through a singular dreary tract of country; and at length found myself, as the shades of evening drew on, within the view of the melancholy House of Usher. (654) Poe is known for his melodramatic writing style, but the constant repetition of daunting words is enough to make any reader practically say out loud, “Come on, Poe. Try to be a little subtle, please.” The abundance of chilling diction and imagery continues through the rest of the story, often in Poe’s description of the house. Any given sentence ... ... middle of paper ... ...loor. We have seen it in modern films, like The Shining, and are reminded of it in Poe’s short story- the human mind is a dangerous thing. Isolation, madness, and fear in The Fall of the House of Usher remind us just how frail the human condition is. Fear is especially relevant because we see its power in everyday life, for example, a stock market crash caused only by its investors fearing a crash, or performing poorly on a test because of staying up all night worrying about it. The reason that the themes in Poe’s story are scary is that they are and will continue to be relevant to its readers. Poe is able to convey fear on two different levels in his most popular short story. By using dark diction and eerie imagery, he creates an overly dramatic horror story, but by adding deeper psychological themes, he creates a timeless work that is relevant to any reader.
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