Poe's Fall of The House of Usher - The House and its Inhabitants

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The House and its Inhabitants

In the story “The Fall of the House of Usher”, Poe presents the history of the end of an illustrious family. As with many of Poe’s stories, setting and mood contribute greatly to the overall tale. Poe’s descriptions of the house itself as well as the inhabitants thereof invoke in the reader a feeling of gloom and terror. This can best be seen first by considering Poe’s description of the house and then comparing it to his description of its inhabitants, Roderick and Madeline Usher.

Poe uses several descriptive words in his portrayal of the house. The reader’s first impression of the house comes from a direct observation from the narrator. This unnamed narrator states, “… with the first glimpse of the building, a sense of insufferable gloom pervaded my spirit.” As the narrator continues to describe the house he uses several similarly dismal adjectives. The gloom experienced by the narrator is not limited to merely the house itself. The vegetation, which surrounds the area, is described as “a few rank sedges and … a few white trunks of decayed trees.” He emphasizes these facets of the house and its environs by restating the descriptions reflected in a “black and lurid tarn.” The narrator points out that the house seems to be in a dilapidated condition. While he claims that the house appears structurally sound, he takes time to comment upon “the crumbling condition of the individual stones.” He also emphasizes the long history of the house by stating that its features recall an “excessive antiquity.”

To of the most striking descriptions used to portray the house are those of the windows and the fissure. He describes the windows as “vacant [and] eye-like.” With this description the narrator effectively anthropomorphizes the house. Thus he almost gives the status of character to the house. The other outstanding description is that of the fissure. It is described as “a barely perceptible fissure, which [extends] from the roof of the building in front, [making] its way down the wall in a zigzag direction, until it [becomes] lost in the sullen waters of the tarn.” It is interesting to note that the narrator spends so much time describing a feature that he describes as barely perceptible.

The first of the two Ushers to be introduced to the reader is Roderick. He is first seen lying upon a couch.

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