The Fall of the House of Usher by E. A. Poe

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Edgar Allan Poe, renowned as the foremost master of the short-story form of writing, chiefly tales of the mysterious and macabre, has established his short stories as leading proponents of "Gothic" literature. Although the term "Gothic" originally referred only to literature set in the Gothic (or medieval) period, its meaning has since been extended to include a particular style of writing. In order for literature to be "Gothic," it must fulfill some specific requirements. Firstly, it must set a tone that is dark, somber, and foreboding. Next, throughout the development of the story, the events that occur must be strange, melodramatic, or often sinister. Poe's short stories are considered Gothic literature because of their eerie atmosphere and atypical plot developments. Consequently, in "The Fall of the House of Usher," Poe is distinguished as an author of unique, albeit grotesque ingenuity in addition to superb plot construction via his frequent use of the ominous setting to enhance the plot's progression and his thematic exploration of science versus superstition.

In the beginning of the story, with an extensive and vivid description of the house and its vicinity, Poe prepares the scene for a dreadful, bleak, and distempered tale. The setting not only affects Poe's narration of the story but influences the characters and their actions as well. Both the narrator and his boyhood friend, Roderick Usher, question whether the house and its surroundings are naturally unhealthy. After all, in much of the Nineteenth Century, many doctors still affirmed their belief that a marshy or ancient area of land may have the potential to physically sicken an individual. Hence, Poe appropriates a setting that seems to contaminate the characters. Just as the atmosphere and landscape seem translated into the characters, the house, as another primary feature of setting, functions as a symbol for the Usher family. The narrator even mentions initially that "House of...
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