Essay on Edgar Allen Poe's Fall of House of Usher

1733 Words Feb 6th, 2013 7 Pages
Bipolar disorder affects many people today as well as in the time of Edgar Allen Poe when it was then called melancholia. Poe was diagnosed with this disorder and it plays an integral role in his story, “The Fall of the House of Usher” (1839). This story is heavily influenced by this disorder or its presently associated symptoms and also describes one way that bipolar disorder can genetically affect an entire family.
To fully understand a story involving this disorder, it is cardinal to know the exact definition of bipolar disorder, as well as its symptoms and previous aliases. The Oxford English Dictionary defines bipolar disorder as: “a form of mental illness characterized by one or more episodes of mania typically accompanied by one or
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Also, Usher “suffered much from a morbid acuteness of the senses; the most insipid food was alone endurable; he could wear only garments of certain texture; the odors of all flowers were oppressive; his eyes were tortured by even a faint light; and there were but peculiar sounds, and these from stringed instruments, which did not inspire him with horror.” (Poe). This heightened sensitivity is evidence of the mania stage associated with bipolar syndrome. Also, a possible episode of mania would be the scene involving Usher’s sister coming from the dead. This could surely be seen as an hallucination and sign of a manic episode. To recap, Usher has symptoms from the hypomania, mania, and depressed stages meaning the ailment that he suffers from is not melancholia, but instead a modern case of bipolar or manic depression disorder.
One reason for a character in a story having a particular disorder would be that the author has real life experience with it. Such is the case with Edgar Allen Poe and “The Fall of the House of Usher”. Poe most definitely suffered from what would now be considered a form of manic-depression disorder. During his final year on Earth, he showed signs of mania, constantly relocating to various cities (Meyers 244). Also during this year, he is reported as saying to a friend named Frederic Thomas: “You will be pleased to hear that I am…