Characterism In Wuthering Heights And The Fall Of The House Of Usher

712 WordsOct 26, 20173 Pages
In gothic literature, the architecture that inhabits a story can go a long way not only in establishing the mood, but also in establishing the story’s characters. In “The Fall of the House of Usher,” by Edgar Allan Poe, published in 1839, readers are introduced to a dreary house that is falling apart, while in another story by Poe published in this same year, “William Wilson,” readers are introduced to a school that, although not in disrepair, is labyrinthian and similarly dreary. Moreover, Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë, published in 1847, showcases a house, the size of which would normally reflect the wealth and high class of it’s owner, and yet the grounds are overgrown, indicating a lack of attention to maintenance while the house itself only features sparse furnishing. In all of these stories, the buildings that inhabit their pages are more than merely settings. Instead they are fragments of specific characters, representations of some form of wellness, while almost being characters in their own right. In “The Fall of the House of Usher” the house represents the physical wellness of both Roderick and Madeline Usher; whereas in “William Wilson” the school reflects the mental wellness of the lead character; and in Wuthering Heights, the titled building represents the emotional wellness of its owner. When the unnamed narrator of “The Fall of the House of Usher” first arrives at the Usher household, he refers to the building as being “melancholy” before adding that upon seeing the structure “a sense of insufferable gloom pervaded my spirit” (49). Through the narrator referring to the building as being “melancholy,” rather than simply saying that he feels “melancholy” looking at it, the house is personified by being ascribed human emotions. Whereas if he had said that he felt “melancholy” from looking at it, his explaining that the house makes him feel a “sense of insufferable gloom” would merely be an elaboration upon his own feelings upon seeing the house (49). However, because the “melancholy” is being attributed to the house itself and not to the narrator, what is being communicated is that because the house itself is “melancholy,” the narrator feels gloomy through a sense of empathy (49). The

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