The Horror of "The Fall of the House of Usher"
What is a horror? What does it mean to be terrified? The definition of a horror fiction is "fiction in any medium intended to scare, unsettle, or horrify the reader." Since the 1960s, any work of fiction with a morbid, gruesome, surreal, or exceptionally suspenseful or frightening theme has come to be called "horror" (Wikipedia) . "The Fall of the House of Usher" is a great example of a story on the basic level of a gothic horror, in which the element of fear is evoked in its highest form. There are many different elements, such as setting, feelings, themes, and characters, that play an essential role in suggesting this.
One of the greatest aspects of Poe's writings is that he makes the reader actually experience the feelings of his characters. As in many "scary stories" the characters start doubting themselves and those around them. Everyone has been in a situation where they know something is not quite right and immediately paranoia sets in. These feelings overcome many characters in horror fiction; Roderick Usher is one of these characters. His fear of the situation and his mental agitation soon engulfs him. His insufferable gloom drives him strait into madness. He fears his situation and anticipates his death. Curiosity overwhelms the reader as the secrets of the Usher house are unveiled. As one enters into the house with the narrator he or she quickly becomes curious about Lady Madeline, Roderick, and the history of the Usher family. All of these Mathews
feelings can be found in any typical horror story.
The setting of a story plays a critical role in creating the mood. Every detail of this story, from the opening description of the dark tarn and the dark rooms of the house to the unearthly storm which accompanies Madeline's return from the tomb, helps in conveying the terror that is the mood (Womack) . In fact, the first five paragraphs of "The Fall of the House of Usher" are...
Cited: "The Fall of the House of Usher". Wikipedia. 16 October 2006. http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=The_Fall_Of_The_House_Of_Usher&oldid=81341740
Patterson, Arthur. "Setting the Stage". The Fall of the House of Usher. http://watershedonline.cac.literature/Poe/pousher.html
Womack, Martha. "Edgar Allan Poe 's 'The Fall of the House of Usher '". The Poe Decoder. 17 October 2006. http://www.poedecoder.com/essays/usher/#theme.
"The Fall of the House of Usher". Cumming 's Study Guides. 16 October 2006. http://www.cummingsstudyguides.net/Guides2/Usher.html#Top
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