The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe (20.09.10)

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Stories of Ourselves: The Fall of the House of Usher
by Edgar Allan Poe
Comment closely on the writing of the (following) passage, paying particular attention to ways Poe creates a sense of fear. In this excerpt of “The Fall of the House of Usher”, Edgar Allan Poe makes use of personification, supernatural features, character portrayal, foreshadows and setting to create a sense of fear and to set a gothic tale. It also illustrates the beginning of Roderick Usher’s mental breakdown. One of the main ways Poe creates a sense of fear for the reader is through the setting. The setting determines the atmosphere. In the story, the narrator tries to convince himself that the reason for his terror was the “gloomy furniture of the room”, “dark tattered draperies, which, tortured into motion,” and the “breath of a rising tempest.” These descriptions form vivid images of the gothic setting in the reader’s mind. It also sets a dark haunted setting where the atmosphere is eerie. The words, “I know not why, except that an instinctive spirit prompted me-“ expresses the feeling of powerless Poe burdens the narrator with. It could also be one of the reasons to his irrational fear. Furthermore, Poe uses imagery of the curtains in the room to set an eerie mood. A human emotion is used to describe the movement of the curtains to being “tortured.” This is personification and it may be a metaphor for what the characters were feeling. The feature of the storm is another use of imagery and reinforcement of symbolism. The raging tempest can represent the characters’ emotional state in the passage, especially Roderick Usher’s. From the previous scenes of the story, Roderick Usher’s mental state becomes obvious. He suffered from an unknown mental illness that was gradually advancing. The passage adds more to the characterization of how we see Roderick Usher. The words “as usual, cadaverously wan”, used before, once again describe his corpse-like appearance and how it was nothing out of...
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