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

2193 Words9 Pages
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.’ (Zamfir. 2011: 15). The execution and the nature of architectural space performs a significant role within the narrative structure of Gothic fiction as it creates and builds layers of imagery that signify the horrific and gloomy. This is illustrative of a building construction, one in which creates an atmosphere of suspense, a prominent aspect to the Gothic fiction genre. It was the Gothic writer Horace Walpole (1717-1797) who first illustrated in his Gothic novel The Castle of Otranto (1764) an example symbolic to the nature and power of architectural space…show more content…
As argued by Zamfir “the universe portrayed in the House of Usher is Poe’s most sublime…in humanizing a dwelling to portray the inner self of the Gothic hero, but it also represents an investigation of the self in a state of disintegration.” (Zamfir. 2011: 62). This state of disintegration as witnessed by the reader is reflected within the architectural structure of the house itself; as the building gradually corrodes, as the Narrator describes the decaying and descending conditions of the house. “The discoloration of ages had been great. Minute fungi overspread the whole exterior, hanging in a fine tangled web-work from the eaves. Yet all this was apart from any extraordinary dilapidation. No portion of the masonry had fallen; and there appeared to be a wild inconsistency between its still perfect adaptation of parts, and the crumbling condition of the individual stones.” (Poe. 1987: 233). This passage seems to infer notions of an interior corrosion, an erosive process from within, adjacent to that of the psychological space and the interior workings of the human mind. The house is coming to pieces, yet the exterior structure is still in a state of composure whilst losing its cohesion; as the reader witnesses the dissolution of parts. In addition to this is that of the position from the main characters, as the structure of the mansion start’s to fall, as do they. This is most
Open Document