A Critical Essay on Edgar Allan Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher (1839)

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The twenty first century author Alexandra Iftodi Zamfir (1986- ) argues that “architecture and settings are more important in Gothic fiction than in any other type of literature…all architectural elements are closely connected with Gothic protagonists and the plot.” (Zamfir. 2011: 15). This critical essay will first consider and analyse this statement and investigate the style, language and form of the American author Edgar Allan Poe’s (1809-1849) macabre and Gothic fictional prose The Fall of the House of Usher (1839) (Poe. 1987: 1). I shall present and argue how the artistic effects deployed in the narrative structure create an atmosphere of tension and suspense, through the exploration of architectural space demonstrated in a close …show more content…
The Fall of the House of Usher thus illustrates both a psychological and architectural perception of Gothic space. This is depicted in the opening passage as the Narrator provides the reader with his own account upon the first appearances of the house and its residing landscape. “I looked upon the scene before me-upon the mere house, and simple landscape features of the domain-upon the bleak walls-upon the vacant eye-like windows-upon a few rank sedges-and upon a few white trunks of decayed trees-with an utter depression of soul which I can compare to no earthly sensation more properly than to the after-dream of the reveller upon opium-the bitter lapse into every-day life-the hideous dropping of the veil.” (Poe. 1987: 231).
The professor of English David Punter (1949-) argues that “…Poe presses on a Gothic nerve: …at creating in short order a sense of an external landscape; but simultaneously the reader is led to wonder constantly whether this landscape is indeed really external or rather a projection of a particular psychological state.” (Punter & Byron. 2004: 156). In a sense both the external landscape and the internal psychological space mirror and reflect each other. This is indicated as the Narrator first encounters the house and its baron surroundings; with the ‘vacant eye-like windows,’ ‘white trunks of decayed trees,’ ‘an utter depression of
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