The Fall Of The House Of Usher - Literary Analysis Essay

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The Fall Of the House Of Usher is a short story written by Edgar Allen Poe in 1839. The short story is complexly written, with challenging themes such as identity and fear. Poe utilises many elements of the Gothic Tradition such as setting and supernatural elements to create a more mysterious story, and uses language to his advantage, employing adjective filled descriptions of literal elements that also serve as metaphors for other parts of the story.

In The Fall Of The House of Usher, Poe explores challenging themes, the most prominent of which is the theme of identity. Throughout the story, the narrator tells us of his experiences with what is left of the Usher family at their estate. The theme of identity is clearly stated right at
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If Madeline was indeed a figment of Roderick’s imagination, Poe is here exploring the difference between the mental and physical self, and the importance that the two are similar.

Another theme that Poe explores in The Fall Of The House Of Usher is fear. It is fear that drives the story, fear that traps the narrator, and eventually fear that kills Roderick Usher. Poe foreshadows the paradox of Roderick’s fear early in the story: “There can be no doubt that the consciousness of the rapid increase of my superstition…is the paradoxical law of all sentiments having terror as a basis.” Roderick Usher is quoted as saying “I have, indeed, no abhorrence of danger, except in its absolute effect--in terror." This means that he is not afraid of death, but of fear itself. And it is this fear of fear that eventually leads to his death, when Madeline ‘returns from the dead’ and scares him to death.

To properly convey these complex themes, Poe employed the use of the Gothic Tradition. That is to say, he used elements such as the supernatural, and traditional gothic settings to create a mood in his story to help the reader become immersed in the story. The Fall Of The House Of Usher is told in the first person, with a nameless narrator who is never properly described. This helps the reader to feel part of the story, as it is as if they are listening to themselves describing the story. Poe has also set the story in a very claustrophobic way, including
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