Instable Families in House of Usher, The Yellow Wallpaper, and The Dead  

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There is, of course, no such thing as the perfect family, although many families attempt to present the perfect family image. If we had insights into the families who claim to be perfect or ones who claim "satisfaction," surely we would begin to see the fissures and "tokens of instability" in their foundations (Poe 720). Three stories from the last half of the nineteenth century and early twentieth century -- Poe's "The fall of the House of Usher," Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper," and Joyce's "The Dead"-- provide us with three types of troubled families, all three of whom seemed to provide "satisfaction," yet which have fissures and instabilities. Roderick Usher's ancient mansion in Edgar Allen Poe's famous story, seen from a distance, seems to have a structurally sound foundation, but it does not. "While I gazed, this fissure rapidly widened -- there came a fierce breath of the whirlwind -- the entire orb of the satellite burst at once upon my sight -- my brain reeled as I saw the mighty walls rushing asunder -- there was a long tumultuous shouting sound like the voice of a thousand waters -- and the deep and dark tarn at my feet closed sullenly and silently over the fragments of the 'House of Usher' (Poe 732). Typically, the average American family goes through financial difficulties, marital problems, or long term illnesses -- all disturbances in the family. In some cases, these crises can destroy the family. Usually, however, a family will not fall apart. When families are faced with a continuous cycle of crises that are kept hidden, then, because of the accumulation of problems, eventually, we see "the mighty walls rushing asunder (Poe 732). In "The Fall of the House of Usher," Roderick Usher's house is an emblem ... ... middle of paper ... ...ntly there were fissures in the marriage the entire time; we must take a closer look at families to see the fissures. In Poe's and Gilman's stories, the revelation of families' emotional wretchedness is revealed gradually. Works Cited Encyclopedia Britannica Online. "Manic-depressiveness psychosis." 27 Sept. 1999. http:// www.eb.com:180/bol/topic?exref=7787. Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. "The Yellow Wallpaper". R.V.Cassill, ed. The Norton Anthology of Short Fiction. New York, London, 1995: 403-417 Joyce, James. "The Dead". R.V.Cassill, ed. The Norton Anthology of Short Fiction. New York, London, 1995: 476-510 Mitchell, Susan. The Official Guide to American Attitudes. New Strategist Publication, Inc. Ithaca, New York, 1996: 245 Poe, Edgar Allen. "The Fall of the House of Usher". R.V.Cassill, ed. The Norton Fiction. New York, London, 1995: 717-732.

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