Madness and Fear in Assignation, Cask of Admontillado, Fall of the House of Usher, and Masque of th
1589 WordsJun 18, 20187 Pages
Madness and Fear in Assignation, Cask of Admontillado, Fall of the House of Usher, and Masque of the Red Death
Poe’s madmen are all obsessed with death. Existence within reality eventually becomes impossible. Poe usually places his madmen within a room or other enclosure, but they are rarely ever outside. When we do come across an exterior, nature does its best to repress, confine and enclose the man. The protagonist in Poe’s “The Assignation” sums up the combination of time and space within Poe’s stories and says, “I have … framed for myself … a bower of dreams. Properties of place, and especially of time, are the bugbears which terrify mankind from the contemplation of the magnificent” (301). The mental state of the character…show more content…
It is Usher’s fear of the sensual experience of death that paralyzes him, considering that he suffers “from a morbid acuteness of the senses” (“Usher” 235). Everything save “the most insipid food … garments of certain texture” etc., “inspire him with horror” (235), and the disastrous consequences he is sure to face simply because “response to anything, especially fear, is sure to result in his own doom” (Weekes 23). I the “odors of all flowers were oppressive” (“Usher 235), what chance has Usher to fight against his fear of the stench of the grave?
Additionally, Usher is horrified by his sister’s wasting away and eventual demise, and he fears suffering the same fate since “sympathies of a scarcely intelligible nature had always existed between them” (“Usher” 240). His preservation of Madeline in the crypt under the house is the “product of a refusal to confront death” (Kennedy 199), both hers and eventually his own. Usher suffers from “paralysis due to death anxiety” and it is the paralysis that keeps him teetering between madness and sanity (200). While it is sanity that will save Usher from the terrible fate of his ancestors, it is the final confrontation with the image of Madeline’s corpse that pushes him over the brink into the abyss. It is here that Usher’s madness is beyond question. In spite of his attempts to avoid death and its inevitability, the “House of Usher” collapses along