Edgar Allen Poe's View Of Death In "The Fall Of The House Of Usher"

1836 words - 8 pages

Edgar Allen Poe's Symbolism of Death in 'The Fall of the House of Usher'Death is defined as, 'The termination or extinction of something' (American Heritage Dictionary). Edgar Allen Poe uses this description in 'The Fall of the House of Usher' in different ways. Poe's intention when writing 'The Fall of the House of Usher' was not to present a moral, lesson, or truth to the reader; he was simply trying to bring forth a sense of terror to the reader. Poe's mind works this way, and critics believe this statement, especially when related to this story.Edgar Allen Poe was born in Boston on January 19, 1809. His life was filled with tragedies that started when he was ten months old and until he ...view middle of the document...

..hanging in a fine tangled web-work from the eaves (fungi eats off the dead remains of other organisms); a barely perceptible fissure, which, extending from the roof of the building in front, made its way down the wall in a zigzag direction, until it became lost in the sullen waters of the tarn'(Poe, 6-13) . This 'fissure' is presented to the reader, early in the story, to represent that Roderick's love for his twin sister, Madeline, was dying, because she was suffering from a mysterious malady, or disease, that baffled her doctors. This caused Roderick to be emotionally and physically depressed, and was described as a madman at this point. 'He was convinced that his whole surroundings, the stones of the house, the fungi, the water in the tarn, the very reflected image of the whole, was woven into a physical oneness with the family, condensed, as it were, into one atmosphere--the special atmosphere in which alone the Ushers could live. And it was this atmosphere which had molded the destinies of his family' (Lawrence, 378).Roderick invites a friend (the narrator) to the 'House of Usher' to visit and support him during this crisis. The narrator is involved in all of Roderick's emotions and problems during the course of the story. He sees Roderick's compassion for his sister during her illness. After Madeline dies he assists Roderick in the placement of her body in a steal coffin in a vault under the house. The reason for such protection of Madeline's body was the fear of her doctors. They were so fascinated by the strangeness of her disease that Roderick feared that they would steal her body for pathologic reasons.Poe uses this whole scenario to show that Roderick really cared for his sister. It was as though they were one being, relying on each other for life; '--a brother, his twin sister, and their incredibly ancient house all sharing a single soul and meeting one common dissolution at the same moment'(Lovecraft, 380). Once Madeline died, Roderick had lost part of himself. Madeline was his connection in the human 'realm'. He knew that his love would eventually kill her, and it did. They loved without any resistance and eventually dragged each other to death. 'For the Holy Ghost says you must not be as one thing with another being. Each must abide by itself, and correspond only within certain limits' (Lawrence, 378).In the end, Roderick's guest (the narrator) finally expresses that Roderick is truly a madman. The purpose for this is that Madeline was alive when they sealed her in the coffin. Usher knew that he had done this many days before, 'Long-long-long-many minutes, many hours, many days, have I heard it-yet I dared not-oh, pity me, miserable wretch that I am!-I dared not-I dared not speak! We have put her living in the tomb!' (Poe, 182). After Usher finally speaks about what he knew, a figure of Madeline appears to them, '...but then without those doors there did stand the lofty and enshrouded figure of the lady Madeline of Usher' (Poe,...

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