Feminist Perspective of the Role of Lady Madeline

Topics: Edgar Allan Poe, The Fall of the House of Usher, Short story Pages: 4 (1578 words) Published: January 14, 2013
From a feminist perspective, write an essay about the role of Lady Madeline in the story.

“The Fall of the House of Usher (1939)”, arguably Edgar Allan Poe’s most famous short story, is a tale centered around the mysterious House of Usher and its equally indiscernible inhabitants. These subjects are plagued with physical and mental degradation – the Usher siblings suffer from various abnormal ailments and unexplained fears, while the house itself seems to be tethering on the edge of collapse. The gothic elements in the story are distributed generously, and the plot is increasingly ridden with the supernatural as it progresses. Lady Madeline, Roderick Usher’s twin sister, is a key element in the story. She suffers from a disease much like catalepsy, a disease that subjects her to seizures and insensitivity to various stimuli. Roderick himself, on the other hand, suffers from an “acuteness of the senses” and a strong belief that the house is somehow alive and conscious of its surroundings. Roderick has not parted from the house in years, and has instead elected to keep himself inside to pore over literature and art, rather than threaten his sanity by overwhelming his senses. The siblings are very similar, not only in their appearance, as they are twins, but in their problems as well. They are both suffering from similarly mysterious diseases, and are both aware of the underlying sexual tension in their relationship. Early in the story, the readers are made aware of the age-old Usher tradition that has kept the Usher family ‘pure’. In other words, incestuous relationships were the norm for them. However, by no means was Madeline and Roderick’s relationship condoned by the rest of society. This essay will examine the story from a feminist perspective, focusing on understanding the narrating styles of the male author, and the actions of the characters in the book. It will also look specifically at the ways that women have suffered from social conventions...
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