Essay about Split Personalities in "The Fall of the House of Usher"

Essay about Split Personalities in "The Fall of the House of Usher"

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Edgar Allan Poe was nothing short of a typical American writer. Many of his short stories present as if a mirror reflection of his own life: obstacles, miseries and anguish that his life was `peppered with'. Poe did not get on well with the society. He indulged in drinking to excess and gambling which was regarded as immoral at that time. Most importantly, he married an underage girl who was his cousin. This step made the pendulum swing. He became an outcast and by many of his contemporaries was perceived as a madman. Though the writer insisted on denying any connection between the events and problems from his life and the ones presented in his works, some literary critics claim that the allusions are very conspicuous.

The majority of his stories are based on the same recurrent motifs such as: crime, murder, evil, madness, burrying alive or corpses making sounds. Moreover, in almost all of them Poe introduced some Gothic elements: a gloomy and mysterious landscape or a haunted house. But the motif that is most noticeable in almost all of his works is that of a split personality. One of such stories is The Fall of the House of Usher. The narrator receives a letter from his friend form childhood, Roderick Usher, telling him that he is in need of his assistance. As he arrives the first thing that catches his attention is the house of his friend. It is in dilapidated condition and the murky and gloom surroundings fill him with a weird sense of mystery: " With the first glimpse of the building, a sense of insufferable gloom pervaded my spirit[...]" The narrator finds his friend in a similar condition. His complexion is pale and he seems to be subdued. During his stay in the house he learns that Roderick suffers from...


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...ne returns from her tomb, the reunification of the senses and the intellect takes place. Finally, when the personality of Roderick is complete, he dies.

Many critics pondered whether Madeline exists at all. Some claim that she is just Roderick and the narrator's figment of imagination which stands for his alter ego. Whatsoever, the author undoubtedly meant to `paint a portrait' of a split character. Since this theme is the leitmotif in the majority of his stories, it might be concluded that the writer wanted to emphasise that a human being can normally function in a society only when his mind operates in accordance with his senses. Whether this realisation of his and the stories in which expounded on the subject were to be an item of proof of his sanity or whether in his stories he simply described the ailment his life was afflicted with, remains unkown.

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