Literary Analysis

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In Edgar Allan Poe’s story The Fall of the House of Usher, the character Roderick Usher exhibits severe mental illness. Most of Poe’s writings are psychological in nature. The Fall of the House of Usher is a great example of this. Poe’s life was filled with many tragic events. The unpleasant outcome of his early years resulted in a great Gothic Romantic writer. He is a master of writing psychological thrillers, adding suspense and mystery in his stories. The topics of his writings are a concoction of unpleasant, austere, and grotesque things, thus the reader can be left feeling squeamish and susceptible. We are drawn into Poe’s stories by our intrinsic human nature of curiosity and intrigue. This paper gives examples of Poe’s literary style as we examine Roderick’s metal state through his words and appearance.
The story starts out with the Narrator receiving a bizarre letter from his old school friend Roderick Usher, “The MS gave evidence of nervous agitation. The author of the letter speaks of acute bodily illness-of a mental disorder which oppressed him.” (Narrator, The Fall of the House of Usher). From the very onset of the story there is a supposition that something is wrong with Roderick, things seem out of the ordinary. The Narrator commiserates with Roderick’s request and decides he will ingratiate him with a visit. When the Narrator first encounters Roderick, Roderick explains, “I feel that the period will sooner or later arrive when I must abandon life and reason together, in some struggle with the grim phantasm, FEAR.” (Roderick Usher, The Fall of the House of Usher). To surmise, Roderick is living in fear and believes that he will soon die. At this point the reader is curious, what could be so awful to trans...

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...e beginning of the story is revealed and is at his very door. Once Madeline appears in the room, Roderick dies and the Narrator runs out of the house to see the house itself sink into the ground. The mental torment for Roderick has ended with his death and the sinking of the House of Usher represents this symbolically.
To recapitulate, the reader is drawn into the story through anticipation and suspend. In the beginning the reader is told there is some great fear Roderick is to soon encounter. Quickly, curiosity invites the reader to discover what could be so terrible that would cause a person such great affliction. This story is a classic example of Poe’s writing. One could surmise the afflictions Poe’s experienced in his own life were reflected in the character Roderick.

Works Cited

Fall of the House of Usher, The
http://www.online-literature.com/poe/31/

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