The Fall of the House of Usher

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In the story “The Fall of the House of Usher” by Edgar Allen Poe, the character Roderick Usher is the last male member of the Usher family. The Usher family has a nearly impeccable direct line of descent as stated in paragraph 3 of the story. Roderick has only one living relative, his sister Madeline. This means that the Usher family is in jeopardy of disappearing because neither Roderick nor his sister has any children. Therefore there is a possibility of incest between Roderick and Madeline. However this could result in many difficulties and problems for the potential children and possibly on the consciences of Roderick and Madeline. In the story Roderick sings a poem entitled “The Haunted Palace” to the narrator of the story. Since Roderick Usher is having doubts about the security of his family line he uses the poem as a way of expressing these emotions without stating them explicitly. The organization of the stanzas in “The Haunted Palace” shows a lot about the poem’s overall meaning. The poem is literally about a palace in a beautiful valley. The palace is inhabited by spirits and a ruler of the valley. The valley is a happy place until it is attacked by evil spirits and their ruler dies. The attack of the spirits leaves the palace a dark and gloomy place. But this literal translation of the poem does not show its metaphorical meaning. A metaphor of the poem can be found through the organization of the poem as a whole. Stanza I describes the setting of the poem: “In the greenest of our valleys” (1.1). It also mentions the palace which is in the valley. Stanza II describes the palace in more detail, labelling it as a beautiful place. Stanza III gives information on the tenants of the palace; spirits live inside with “the ru... ... middle of paper ... ...oderick refers to the spirits as good and says that they sing about: “The wit and wisdom of their king.” (4.8). “The ruler of the realm” (3.8) whom the spirits are singing about could represent the house of Usher, but not the literal house of Usher, instead they are singing about the Usher family. It is known that this is a name often given to both the house and the family: “…the ‘House of Usher’ – an appellation which seemed to include, in the minds of the peasantry who used it, both the family and the family mansion.” (Poe par.3) Therefore Roderick could be saying all of this because he is proud of his family and believes that he is letting down the “House of Usher” by not continuing the direct line of descent that his family has continued for so many years. Thus when the king dies in the poem (5.3-4), Roderick could think that his family line has already died.

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