Edgar Allen Poe's The Fall of the House of Usher

Edgar Allen Poe's "The Fall of the House of Usher"

Death is defined as, "The termination or extinction of something"

(American Heritage Dictionary). Edgar Allen Poe uses this description in "The

Fall of the House of Usher" in different ways. Poe's intention when writing

"The Fall of the House of Usher" was not to present a moral, lesson, or truth to

the reader; he was simply trying to bring forth a sense of terror to the reader.

Poe's mind works this way, and critics believe this statement, especially when

related to this story.

Edgar Allen Poe was born in Boston on January 19, 1809. His life was

filled with tragedies that started when he was ten months old and until he died

at age forty. These tragedies might be the answer to why Poe wrote in a way

that confuses most of his readers. "Abandoned, misunderstood, and broke

throughout his life, few would have predicted that Poe would one day achieve the

fame and respect now offered him in literacy circles in America and Europe—

particularly France" ("The Fall of the House of Usher" - Analysis, 5).

Poe is grouped with other writers in the Romantic period. Writers of

this period focused on life, emotions, and the existence of the human race.

Although Poe's work has many characteristics of Romanticism, "The Fall of the

House of Usher", falls into the Gothic category. "It is usually admired for its

‘atmosphere' and for its exquisitely artificial manipulation of Gothic claptrap

and decor"(Abel, 380).

Bringing forth the symbolism of death is a major part of this writing.

All of the characters in "The Fall of the House of Usher" are linked to death;

by physical objects or by other people. "There are no symbols of absolute good"

(Abel, 382).

The physical aspect of the House of Usher symbolizes death, in the

chain of events, during the story. Even Poe's description of the house has

deadly characteristics. Poe describes the house as having "eye-like windows"

and being covered by "minute fungi…hanging in a fine tangled web-work from the

eaves (fungi eats off the dead remains of other organisms); a barely perceptible

fissure, which, extending from the roof of the building in front, made its way

down the wall in a zigzag direction, until it became lost in the sullen waters

of the tarn"(Poe, 6-13) . This "fissure" is presented to the reader, early in

the story, to represe...

... middle of paper ...

...d in harsh conditions, and for this reason,

probably could not control what he wrote.

Edgar Allen Poe's stories will live on through the hearts of readers

for years to come. They will scrutinize the symbolic meanings of his passages

and figure out their meanings. Poe was obsessed with death and, thus, his life

ended in his middle years. He might have been waiting for death to come to him.

He watched his life decay just like the narrator viewed the death of the Ushers.

Poe is "alive" in the minds of his readers and they are still horrified by his


Works Cited

1. Abel, Darrel. Introduction. The Science Fiction of Edgar Allen Poe. By

Edgar Allen Poe. Penguin Books, 1976.

2. "death". The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. 1992


3. Lawrence, D.H. Studies in Classic American Literature. The Viking Press,


4. Lovecraft, Howard Phillips. Supernatural Horror in Literature. Dover

Publications, Inc., 1973.

5. Poe, Edgar Allen. "The Fall of the House of Usher". CD-ROM. Lake Ariel, PA:

Westwind Media, 1994.

6. Poe, Edgar Allen. Complete Tales and Poems. Secaucus, N.J.: Castle, a

Division of Book Sales, Inc., 1985.
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