Gothic in Poe's "Fall of the House of Usher"

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Edgar Allan Poe is an author that has mastered the choice of words in his stories to create just the right mood and the right feelings. In The Fall of the House of Usher, a man will visit a childhood friend who is suffering from a strange illness. Strange events will occur under his host’s roof. In this short story, Poe uses conventions of gothic literature to push the story’s protagonists into a state of constant distress of the mind and eventually drive them into madness. Gothic conventions such as the gothic setting, death and the supernatural will slowly bring fear upon his characters.

Firstly, in the short story, the author uses the gothic setting to create a frightful gloomy mood and atmosphere that inspires fright to the narrator. At his first arrival at the Usher domain, the narrator describes his feelings of the house saying “with the first glimpse of the building, a sense of insufferable gloom pervaded [his] spirit.” (263) The house looks dreary and unwelcoming giving away “an atmosphere which had no affinity with the air of heaven, but which had reeked up from the decayed trees, and the gray wall, and the silent tarn…”(264), which will affect the narrators perception of the residence during his stay. Later on, Usher will lead the storyteller to the vaults. He feels a certain uneasiness in the undergrounds where the air is heavy and damp and the atmosphere “oppressing”(272). He is also told that the vaults were actually once used as “don-jon-keep”(272). He thus pays more attention to his surroundings and notices the long archways sheathed with copper and “the door, of massive iron, also, similarly protected”(272). Furthermore he notes they are located directly under his room. A sense of entrapment and imprisonment takes over him and fear slowly creeps into him by this “region of horror”(272).

Furthermore, Poe also employs the elements of the supernatural to bring fright upon the characters. Odd sentiments will take over the narrator at night and he...
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