Fear is a human characteristic that everyone must struggle with. This theme is a universal one which everyone can relate to however, it is also a difficult one to capture within a short story. Edgar Allan Poe is one of the few classic writers who are able to achieve this feat. His story "The Fall of the House of Usher" is centred around the central idea of the impact of fear on one's life. His parable talks about facing your fears and the self-destruction that can come by allowing fear to run your life. Through his Gothic romantic style of writing, Poe includes elements such as a dark atmosphere, a mysterious setting, and symbolic characters in order to highlight the power and effect of fear on one's life. "The Fall of the House of Usher" addresses the conflict of fear by exposing the fear of the unknown, of restriction and claustrophobia, and of being outside one's comfort zone
The story begins by introducing the reader to the narrator, who remains unnamed. The narrator is on a journey to the home of his old friend Roderick Usher who sends word that he is feeling ill. This journey induces fear for the narrator because he must face the fear of the unknown as he travels through an unknown land for a somewhat unknown reason. Also, it is very mysterious that the Usher's, with their great fear of outsiders, would invite the narrator into the home. The narrator himself is an unknown to the reader, with very little description given, not even his name. This ambiguity sets the tone for the story, and is followed up by the description of the setting. The narrator's journey begins on a "dull, dark, and soundless day" (16). The reader finds them self alone in this haunted space with the narrator approaching the melancholy house surrounded by murky ponds and decayed trees. There is a small crack from the roof to the ground in the front of the building and there are signs of decay. Some of the individual stones are disintegrating, however, "beyond this indication of...
Cited: Poe, Edgar Allan. "The Fall of the House of Usher." in Short Fiction: An Introductory Anthology. Ed. Gerald Lynch and David Rampton, Toronto. Thomson Nelson, 2005. 16-30.
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