Psychoanalytical Approach to E. A. Poe’s
“The Fall of the House of Usher”
The purpose of psychoanalytic criticism is to offer the reader a better understanding of a literary piece by the analysis and interpretation of certain aspects through psychoanalytical theory. The aim, as is the case with all critical approaches, is to go beyond the surface structure and into the deep structure of a text, this time through the study of the psyche and by looking for patterns which are significant and convey meaning. The focus of such an approach is either the author, the intricate mechanisms of his own mind, which explain how and why the text came into being, or, in some cases, the characters, whose psyches can shed further light on the content. In the following essay, I intend to approach one of Edgar Allan Poe’s short stories: “The Fall of the House of Usher” from a psychoanalytical perspective, while focusing on the main characters, namely Roderick Usher and his sister Madeline. We are first introduced to the horrid atmosphere of the Ushers’ domain by the narrator who speaks of an “insufferable gloom” by which he is prevailed. He cannot account for this frame of mind by the sole description of the building and the landscape, as, although these are indeed fraught by dissolution and decay, there is more to it than that. His sudden depressive mood is caused by something metaphysical and unworldly, as he himself admits, but is not able to understand. Soon after, the narrator encounters Roderick Usher, a childhood friend and the owner of the mansion, who had invited, in fact urged him to come to assist him in his time of physical and mental suffering. The narrator is appalled by his friend’s appearance, by his cadaveric allure and frailty. In my opinion, there is a deep connection between Usher and the mansion. It is the narrator who first hints to that when he says that the Usher line of descent and the estate are both known and referred to by the peasantry as “the...
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