House Of Usher 2 Essay, Research Paper
The Haunted Palace
In “The Fall of the House of Usher,” the house and its possessions play a key role in the story. The house itself is a main contributor to the all around theme of death and evil surrounding this story. There is a section of the story where different mediums of art — painting, poem, and other various novels — are introduced to the reader. These stories are somehow in its own way parallel to the story of “The Fall of the House of Usher. Throughout the story, the house and the inanimate objects inside serve to give a supernatural atmosphere to the story. By giving inanimate objects almost life-like characteristics, he is giving the house a supernatural quality. This supernatural element adds to The Fall of the House of Usher s suspense and the way the house affects its inhabitants.
The painting that was introduced was a painting done by Henry Fuseli. Fuseli was “noted for his interest in the supernatural” (Poe 669). Poe writes, “A small picture presented the interior of an immensely long and rectangular vault or tunnel, with low walls, smooth, white, and without interruption… and bathed the whole in a ghastly and inappropriate splendor” (Poe 669). This description of the painting can be interpreted as being a description of the interior of the Usher house. The interior of the house is interpreted as a place of sorrow, where the atmosphere is morbid and cold. Most people have art in their homes for the reason of “cheering up the place. This painting does not serve this purpose. All this painting did was add to morbidity and coldness of the house. Whether Usher knew this remains to be seen.
The poem was entitled “The Haunted Palace”. “The Haunted Palace” makes a connection between the house and its inhabitants. When the readers read the poem, they should be able to draw similarities between the poem and the story. “The Haunted Palace” parallels the plot of “The Fall of the House of Usher”. “Once a fair and stately palace — Snow-white palace — reared its head” (Poe 670). This describes the past of the Usher House. It was once a grand manor. As time went by, the house deteriorated along with the emotions of the people occupying it. We get to the present in both the story and this exert from the poem, “But evil things, in robes of sorrow, assailed the monarch’s high estate:” (Poe 670). This is what is happening to the Usher House now. The house, along with its inhabitants, are full of sorrow.
The other stories that were read to Usher had similar themes amongst themselves. They also in some way related to the happenings inside the Usher House. The similar theme amongst the stories was that there was always some sort of evil presence around — “the books which, for years. . . [were] in strict keeping with this character of phantasm” (Poe 671).” In Belphegor, by Niccolo Machiavelli, a demon comes to earth to prove that women damn men to hell” (Poe 671). In the story by Ludwig Holberg, he “deals with a voyage to the land of death and back” (Poe 671). Here, we see how these two stories are related to “The Fall of the House of Usher”. The demon that comes to damn men or in this instance a man to hell is Lady Madeline. She is this evil presence that voyages to the land of death and back. Her illness of falling asleep and not waking up gives the impression that she is dead. It is because of this illness that Roderick accidentally buries her and this gives Lady Madeline the demon like qualities when she gets out of being buried alive.
We have three different forms of art with three similar themes. What is Poe trying to say by adding these into the story? Poe could have just said that the narrator read to Usher to make him feel better, but instead Poe goes into to great detail to let the reader know what each of the other forms of art include. The only conclusion that can be drawn is that Poe is trying to make the reader realize how bad of a situation Usher is in. No matter what the narrator tried to do to make Usher feel better, his actions only reinforced the situation Usher was trying to escape or hide from. Everything in the house seemed to remind Usher of his past, present, and possibly his future. This is probably why Usher could not sleep — his dreams were haunting him. This seems to be the only logical reasons as to why Usher was never getting better. Usher knew deep down inside that there was no escaping the Usher House dead or alive.
In “The Fall of the House of Usher”, Poe uses the life-like characteristics of an otherwise decaying house as a device for giving the house a supernatural atmosphere. From the very beginning of the story, the reader can tell that there is something unusual and almost supernatural about the building. As the narrator approaches the home of his long-time friend, Roderick Usher, he refers to the house as the “melancholy House of Usher” (Poe 664). Leslie Odil writes, When the narrator first views the house of Usher, he views it as a mystery incapable of being solved (Odil). Upon looking at the building, the narrator describes the feeling he has as a sense of insufferable gloom pervades in my spirit” (Poe 664). The windows appear to be “vacant” and “eye-like” and the narrator goes on to observe the rank sedges” and the “black and lurid tarn” in which he sees the reflection of the house. He later says, when I again uplifted my eyes to the house itself, from its image in the pool, there grew a strange fancy . . .” (Poe 665). Although the narrator tries to view everything he sees in a rational manner, upon seeing the house and its surroundings, he has a heightened sense of superstition. He goes on to say that, about the whole mansion and domain there hung an atmosphere peculiar to themselves and their immediate vicinity” (Poe 666). This statement indicates that perhaps the house does indeed have supernatural characteristics. The narrator observes the details of the house once more and finds that the house has fungi growing all over it and the masonry of the building is decaying. He says,” there appeared to be a wild inconsistency between its still perfect adaptation of parts, and the utterly porous, and evidently decayed condition of the individual stones” (Poe 666). This observation suggests that perhaps something supernatural is holding the house intact; otherwise it would have fallen to the ground long ago.
Throughout the story, Poe’s imagery of the house and the inanimate objects inside serve to give a supernatural atmosphere to the story. By giving inanimate objects almost life-like characteristics, he is giving the house a supernatural quality. This supernatural element serves to make Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher interesting and suspenseful in his treatment of the house’s effect on its inhabitants. Arthur Patterson writes, The physical collapse of the decayed mansion into the lake beneath has universal archetypal appeal–the apocalypse, the ending of things, the collapse of all constructions at the moment of final atomic explosion (Patterson).
Poe, Edgar Allan. “The Fall of the House of Usher.” The Norton Anthology of American Literature. Ed. Nina Baym. New York: Norton, 1995. 664-676.
Patterson, Arthur. Literary Notes on The Fall Of the House of Usher. Watershed Online. December 1996. http://www.watershed.winipeg.mb.ca/pousher.html (November 12, 2000).
Odil, Leslie. Analysis of paragraph. http://www.cwrl.utexas.edu/ mmaynard/316s/papers/leslie.html (November 12, 2000).
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