29 January 2013
Obuchowski, Peter. "Unity Of Effect In Poe's 'The Fall Of The House Of Usher'." Studies In Short Fiction 12.4 (1975): 407. Literary Reference Center. Web. 29 Jan. 2013.
Peter Obuchowski of Central Michigan University critiqued one particular literary work of the famous author Edgar Allen Poe. In his critique, Mr. Obchowski describes the unity of effects that Poe demonstrated. His main point in the critique is that the terror presented in the story is not of the risen corpse of Madlenine or the mental illness of Roderick; the true horror is the fear of a sane man falling into the depths of insanity. Though some readers may have interpreted that the protagonist of the story was Roderick Usher, Obuchowski believes that the main character was actually the unnamed narrator. When the story begins, the narrator is overcome with a “sense of insufferable gloom” while looking intently at the House of Usher. He is unable to fathom the reasons of this feeling. The narrator’s incapability of rationalizing a feeling like this is consistent throughout the entire story such as when he cannot sleep and when the sounds in the book he reads to Roderick correspond with the sounds in “reality.” Soon enough, his mind will reject all plausible explanations for circumstance such as these, and he will question reality. At the end of the story when Madeline is revealed from behind the door and falls dead upon her brother, the narrator loses every bit of sanity he has left. The execution of the unity of effects in Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher” is pure perfection. Due to Poe’s artistic genius, he is able to create a sense of uncertainty of sanity not only in the narrator’s mind, but also in our own minds.
I wholeheartedly agree with everything Peter Obuchowski stated in his critique. After I read Poe’s short story, I immediately suspected not the insanity of Roderick, but the unraveling insanity of the narrator himself. It is understood in...