The Depiction of Fear in The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe

The Depiction of Fear in The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe

As Edgar Allan Poe wrote, "The Fall of the House of Usher", he uses characterization, and imagery to depict fear, terror, and darkness on the human mind.


Roderick and his twin sister Madeline are the last of the all time-honored House of Usher. They are both suffering from rather strange illnesses which may be attributed to the intermarriage of the family. Roderick suffers from "a morbid acuteness of the senses", while Madeline's illness is characterized by " a settled apathy, a gradual wasting away of the person, and frequent all though transient affections of a partly cataleptically character" which caused her to lose consciousness and feeling. The body would then assume a deathlike rigidity.

Beside his illness and his sister dieing, Roderick believes his condition is being controlled by the house. He call on the narrator a boyhood friend to in a last ditch effort to cheer his life up and give him someone to communicate with. The narrator arrives to a house of gloom, darkness and decaying furniture. He immediately is afraid for his life and how his friend can live a house of darkness. Several days past and it is filled with art discussions, guitar playing, and literature reading, all to keep Roderick's mind busy from the reality that he is losing his mind. The narrator and Roderick prematurely enconffined Madeline in a vault in a hope to alleviate his metal condition. She is either dead, in a coma, or a vampire. You don't know but Poe allows the reader to make there own assumptions.

I believe she is a vampire because they bolt down the coffin hoping she will not escaped. As some days pass his mental condition worsens...

... middle of paper ...

...en mentioned may be a sign that perhaps she is not rally dead and that Madeline may appear in the story later. The narrator remarks, "There were times, indeed, when I thought his unceasingly agitated mind was laboring with on oppressive secret, to divulge which he struggled for the necessary courage"(Poe, 673). The narrator also comments on how Roderick seems to stare at nothing and appears to be "listening to some imaginary sound"(Poe, 673). Again, this may be another hint of some evil occurrence yet to happen and Roderick does in fact lose his sanity as well as his life when Madeline reappears before Roderick and the narrator at the end of the story.

In conclusion Poe excellent use of characterization and imagery to depict fear and darkness, truly make The Fall of the House of Usher a story of the battles the we must face our fears in order to free our mind.
Get Access