The Fall of the House of Usher

Timmerman says that there are a number of ways that a writer can useto create an imaginary world in the mind of the reader (160). EdgarAllan Poe uses such a style to create a classical gothic story thatwill forever remain a reference to other coming literal works. In hisstory, he shows how being stuck in a nightmare is almost the same asgetting trapped in one of the most horrifying parts of theirimaginative minds. By trapping the characters in alien images andhorror-like creatures, Poe creates a very realistic horror scene inthe story. This is to the level of almost convincing the audiencethat such a place really exists. These are the times that the peoplein the story and the readers face when they are most vulnerable tohorrors. When people are asleep, they may dream dreams so realistic,highlighted by flashing of images and thoughts from real life, whichtheir unconscious minds turns into a whirlwind of horrifying events.According to Timmerman, Edgar Allan Poe focuses mainly on bringingout a ghastly and outrageous story, which is derived from the land ofdreams (48).

It is agreeable that his story is characteristically dreadful, withthe ability of creating dreadful nightmares even in cases where thereappears to be little or none at all. This may be attributed to hisapparent ability of categorically building horror and ensuring thatthe effect is felt by using a number of literary skills. Poe turnshis dreams into tales which can effectively get into the minds of thereaders and enlighten the mystical human psyche by unfolding thestructure of the human mind (Mezei and Briganti 14). “In The fallof the house of usher,” the author makes a deep journey into themind, and evaluates its make-up to reveal the struggle between lifeand reason. He also ventures into death and madness. In order tobring his story into reality, the author exemplifies the differentcharacteristics of the human mind as understood by then.

Theauthor creates horror stories by using ideas from his horrifyingdreams, backed by a slanted mind of his own making. Given this, itcan confidently be concluded that the narrator is Poe himself. Fromthis mind, the audience can get the intention of the writer to workon understanding the functioning of the human mind. According toFisher, the author is concerned with the breakdown of his own mind(86). This is what gives the reader a clue about the author’s ideaon the human brain and how it influences their behavior. This is theelement that makes such stories more than simply horror stories. Theygo beyond the fearsome world of madness and death. The stories gofurther into the exploring the gloomy part of the humanistic mind,and exposes the weaknesses and vulnerability of people’spsychology. The author endeavors to create fear by constructing astory that dissects the mind. While at it, he points out strangethings that can occur to the mind, and how they can create fear.

While identifying the most vulnerable points of the human psyche, theauthor realizes that fear is achieved by exposing the human mind intoa psychological warfare. This is interwoven with mental uncertaintiesdesires which are not within human control. According to Rollason,Poe’s stories always have an elements that represent the state ofthe mind, which is quite bizarre (17). In fact, Poe’s stories putlearners in a situation of wanting to explore deeper into the mindsof the characters, and form an opinion of why the characters behavein the manner they do. Nevertheless, the irrational state of mind ofthe characters is not the only center of the story. The emotion ofhorror is also a focus point in the tale as told by Poe (Roche 22).In order to let the reader understand things from his perspective,Poe uses irrational minds to demonstrate to the reader that the mindis very complex and that there is a constant struggle between themind and action of the characters. If there is an occurrence thatbalance lacks between the two, it means that the human mind is set tosuffer untellable psychological challenges.

Thereare situations in the story line through which the reader can seethat the characters are dealing with psychological conflict. Thesituations are when the characters are dealing with death andmadness, and when they are forced to make decisions on life andreason. For instance, Usher, who is in mental shambles, says that heis “incurably sickened with a family disease where his senses arepainfully over-sensitive” (Roche 22). According to him, his braindoes not work in a normal human way. He is very sensitive to senses,and pays extra-ordinarily high attention to details. A real horrorsituation for him, which makes things worse, is knowing that hissister will surely die before him. This horror situation puts Usherin an awkward situation, as he does not know what to do next.Additionally, he does realize that after the inevitable happens, hewill be in a position to escape the half reality which he has beenstuck in for a while.

At this point, Poe uses imaginative horror to drive fear (Perry andSederholm 54). Usher know that he has to seek the death in order toavoid growing mad. However, despite the fact that the character knowsthat death is the only way out, he is scared of what death looks orfeels like. Seems like his only option, regardless how horrific itis, cannot save him from growing even madder. Usher hates his diseaseand keeps on thinking about it. He however fears the details ofdeath. Just as he longs for his death, he is on the watch out for hissister’s death. This is an unimaginable horror, which createsimmense fear both in the character and the reader. Poe achieves hisambition of creating a horror by exploiting the vulnerabilities ofthe human mind. Throughout the story, two things become apparent,which cannot be entirely avoided. These are madness and death (Hume139). In the minds of the Ushers, death is implicit. The authorassociates death and its opposite, life, as well as he associates aninverted world with its opposite, reason. He uses this technique todemonstrate the struggles that the Ushers are dealing with, and playwith the mind of the reader.

Inthe story, Poe uses distinct symbols to show different parts of themind. The plot of the story is not only a result of the conventionalgothic horror creation, but also a number of symbols which have beenused to show that there is a struggle between the mind and reason,life and death, and also consciousness and madness. One symbol thatPoe uses in the story to demonstrate the struggle between mind andreason is the love between brother and sister (Anastasaki 209).Despite the fact that Usher is not in a position to tell what he willdo after his sister dies, he longs for her death. The situation doesnot change even after his sister had been buried. The Narrator says“and now, some days of bitter grief having elapsed, an observablechange came over the features of the mental disorder of my friend.His ordinary manner had vanished. His ordinary occupations wereneglected of forgotten. He roamed from chamber to chamber withhurried, unequal, and objectless step” (65). The craziness that wasobserved in Usher’s character before his sister’s death is evenworsened by her actual death.

In psychoanalysis, it is not unusual to trace every trouble in thepsyche’s mind to an incest-desire (Yang 599). This is the madnessthat drives Usher crazy throughout the story, which also dooms themboth through family illness. The insanity in him grows every passingsecond, which results in him wanting to kill his own sister. Poe usesthe state of the mind of a psyche to sketch the realities of thehorror in the reader. In simpler terms, he maximizes the ability ofthe reader’s mind to connect with the experiences of thecharacters, to create an almost believable story line. During thetime of writing this story, not many authors had used such atechnique to bring their stories to life.

Poestructures his story to be horrific from every sense. For instance,he turns the theme of love into a horror. Usher loves his sister.However, it is a dangerous affection, which does nothing but addhorror and grief to the story line. Usher knew that his love for hissister was a death engagement. He attempts to kill his love, anddespite the fact that he realizes that what he is about to do iswrong, he goes ahead to kill her. However, he does not actually “killher”. The horrific twist of the story is that they actually dietogether.

Poealso manipulates the mind of the reader by including a twin factor inthe story. It is an artistic style for an author to use such examplesto bring out two sides of the human nature (Steven 7). Usher and hissister are twins. However, they represent two halves, evil andrighteousness. Usher is pure evil, while his sister is seeminglyinnocent. However, the two twins are till strongly connected.Additionally, the intellectual aspect of the total being isrepresented by Usher, while his sister is the sensual side of hispsyche. Thoughts of illness and death have totally crowded Usher’smind. At the same time, the love for his sister has blinded hisconsciousness.

Mixing this together, Poe demonstrates to the reader how Usher isliving in an unrealistic world. He is only connected to the realworld by a messed state of mind and his sister. Nevertheless, he hasno wish of being connected to the real world. Instead, he wants toexist in his virtual world, despite the horrors that characterize it.He finds the physical world to be full of repugnance (Blasco 68). Assuch, the only option he has should he continue existing isdestroying his sister, alongside himself. However, he fails todestroy both sides, because it is apparent that they make him who heis. Should he eliminate one side, the other one is waiting to tormenthim? As such, he cannot kill his own sister. Instead, they end updying together.

Themanner in which Poe plays with the characters’ minds is the samemanner in which he plays with he readers’ minds. He uses allegory,more so the relationship of the rotting House of Usher and Usher’sdying character (Anastasaki 210). In Poe’s thinking, decaying isthe visionary remoteness of the physical reality. He uses Usher’ssister’s ticking death clock to relate to Usher’s escape fromreality (Jones 15). Just as the house is slowly decaying, so isUsher’s mind and life. Throughout the storyline, Usher’s mind isdecaying alongside the foundation and structure of his house. Thecrack that is described by the author is the madness that continuesto eat through his morality. Poe has used simple natural objects(like the crack) to create a neurotic perception of Usher’s worldin the reader’s mind. Usher and his family have not known anypossession in their life, except for their house. At the moment, itis on the brink of disintegrating. So is the entire family line. Justas Usher’s mind wants to sink deeper into his own virtual world, sois the house, which has never been repaired. “Falling” istherefore a natural process in Usher’s life, just as the collapseis inevitable for their house.

Theargument presented in this paper has proven that Poe uses thepsychology of the mind to strengthen the theme of his story. This iswhat makes the fall of the house of usher a classical creepy story.It is so mainly because the author cleverly uses the vulnerabilitiesof the mind to show how failing to control one’s state of the mindmay mean misery for them. This is a psychic drama, which is also anexposition for demonstrating how self-destruction can be initiated byan unsteady state of the mind.

Annotated Bibliography

Anastasaki,Elena. &quotEmbedded and Embodied Poetry in Edgar Allan Poe’s‘Ligeia’and ‘.’.&quot (2013):207-29.

One of Anastasaki’s major strengths in literature analysis is thatshe constantly revises everything from publication to publication. Assuch, she has the experience to identify deletions or alteration ofphrases, extension of text and alteration of content. She used theseskills to analyze the poetic touch in The fall of the house ofUsher and explain its importance is spicing up the theme. Assuch, she identified the symbol of love between brother and sister inthe story, which was important for conducting a critical analysis ofthe two characters in the project.

Blasco, MaríaBenita Nadal. &quot&quot The fall of the house of Usher&quot: amaster text for (Poe`s) American Gothic.&quot&nbspJournalof English Studies&nbsp7(2009): 55-70.

This was the three author’s first publication in the journal ofEnglish studies. However, their individual experiences gave them theedge to analyze Usher’s obsession, mental imbalance and actions.The work is important in creating a connection for the flow of eventsin the fall of the house of Usher, which can be quiteconfusing without its supporting ideas. The work is also crucial fordescribing Usher’s mental problems from the perspective of thegothic theme.

Fisher,Benjamin Franklin.&nbspTheCambridge Introduction to Edgar Allan Poe.Cambridge University Press, 2008.

The book’s authors look at the Allan Poe’s history, with theintent of characterizing his style in literature. In the process,they review a number of his successful works of literature, such asCompanion, The mystery of Marie Roget, The Tell-tale heart andimportantly The fall of the house of Usher. One of the majorstrengths of this book is that it brings into existence the subjectof doubt in the gothic genre of literature. The authors have ageneral experience in analyzing literature, hence the work isimportance for analyzing the human mind’s characterization in thestory.

Hume,Beverly. &quotThe Fall of the House of Marvell: Wharton`s PoesqueRomantic in The Custom of the Country.&quot&nbspAmericanLiterary Realism&nbsp40.2(2008): 137-153.

Beverly has been analyzing literature for over two decades. As such,his experience in the field qualifies his works to be referenced inother literature analyses, including this project. Beverlyintrinsically analyses the sub-themes of madness and death in AllanPoe’s the fall of the house of usher. Given that Allan Poeuses the mind’s conscious to explain and justify the horrific endof the main characters, an analysis of the sub-themes as used in thisgothic styled story is very important. This source was used toexplain the struggles and eventual sad end of Usher.

Mezei, Kathy,and Chiara Briganti. &quotReading the house: a literaryperspective.&quotSigns&nbsp40.1(2014).

The authors present their view on the short story The fall of theHouse of Usher by describing how the story drew upon a growinggenre by then. During the time of its writing, not many authors hadspecialized in the gothic genre. As such, the authors of thisdescribe how the author uses the house and the main character’smental status as a seemingly single unit of horror. The source isimportant as it explains the mystery of the genre and gives thereaders a clue about how objects and characters are intertwined toproduce a horror.

Perry,Dennis, and Carl Sederholm.&nbspPoe,&quotThe House of Usher,&quot and the American Gothic.Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.

This source is perhaps the most detailed analysis of the gothic themein Allan Poe’s The fall of the house of Usher. The threeauthors analyze the theme by making special reference to its use inAmerican literature. Given that these are among the first roots ofthe theme, Perry, Dennis and Sederholm, by describing the author(Allan Poe), give an all-encompassing analysis of his style. Thesource is important for describing the imaginative horror, whichcharacterizes the core of the story.

Roche, David.&quotThe&quot Unhealthy&quot in&quot The Fall of the House ofUsher&quot: Poe`s Aesthetics of Contamination.&quot&nbspTheEdgar Allan Poe Review&nbsp(2009):20-35.

Roche looks at the story The fall of the house of Usher from acritical perspective, mainly drawing upon the theme and purpose ofAllan Poe. He sides his criticism with the opinion of a number ofother critical responses, by claiming that the emotion of horror isthe focus point of the story as told by Allan Poe. Just as Fisher andBenjamin, he informs the reader about the importance of the use ofirrational minds in the story. Given his experience in criticalliterature, Roche’s work is important for the purpose of thisessay.

Rollason,Christopher. &quotThe&quot Character of Phantasm&quot: Edgar AllanPoe`s` `and Jorge Luis Borges“Tlön,Uqbar, Orbis Tertius`/El&quot Character of Phantasm&quot:`The Fallof the House of Usher`de Edgar Allan Poe y ‘Tlön, Uqrar, OrbisTertius’ de Jorge Luis Borges.&quot&nbspAtlantis&nbsp(2009):9-22.

Rollason has for a long time analyzed short stories. He seems overthe years to have an interest in specializing in the gothic theme, asmost of his peer reviewed articles are an analysis of the same. Inthis work, he analyses three works from different authors, andattempts to unify them through the theme of phantasm. As such, hiswork provides information about the character building of the maincharacters in The fall of the house of Usher. Rollason, justas Roche, Fisher and Benjamin, gives an important analysis of thestate of mind of the main characters in the story.

Steven, Mark.&quotMovements in the Hollow Coffin: On “The Fall of the House ofUsher”.&quot&nbspPoeStudies&nbsp44.1(2011): 5-15.

In the short story the fall of the house of Usher, elements ofspirits and demons are described. Steven draws upon the use thecoffin to create horrors of spirits and elements to write hisanalysis. He helps the reader to understand the use of purpose of thecoffin, which is to create a connection between the real world andthe imaginative world. This source is important for analyzing thegothic theme from the sense of objects used in the storyline.

Timmerman,John H. &quotHouse of Mirrors: Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Fall ofthe House of Usher”.&quot&nbspEdgarAllan Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart” and Other Stories-NewEdition&nbsp(2009):159-72.

The book contains the short story, The fall of the house of Usher,amongst a number of other short stories. The story itself if amongthose which seem to provoke almost as many critical interpretationsas it has readers. The critical evaluations of the story have takentwo directions, first, a story that is in the wider gothic genre butstill an emotional piece, and giving close attention to thedevelopment of female characters, given the norms of the times of itscreation. The book’s text features a chronology of the author’slife, bibliography and index, as well as an elaboration of hiscreative writing.

Yang, Amy.&quotPsychoanalysis and Detective Fiction: a tale of Freud andcriminal storytelling.&quot&nbspPerspectivesin biology and medicine&nbsp53.4(2010): 596-604.

Peers have described Yang as one of the most ardent fans andinfluential filmmakers of thriller and horror genres. He has alsobeen a consultant for major horror productions, which have been asuccess on big screens. Yang’s work features a scientificperspective of the gothic theme in the short story The fall of thehouse of Usher. The work presents a psychoanalysis of the story,as well as its association with the mental status of Usher and hiscriminal mind. This work is important for describing all madness thatis presented in the story, as well as the family misfortunes.

Zimmerman,Brett. &quotSensibility, Phrenology, and&quot The Fall of the Houseof Usher&quot.&quot&nbspTheEdgar Allan Poe Review&nbsp(2007):47-56.

The author attempts to give a well-informed opinion about the story’ssensibility, structure and phrenology. As such, there are a number ofphrenological hints that the author presents from his ownunderstanding of the story. He also attempts to bring together asingle convenient assessment of the story’s author’s structuraldevelopment, especially on the history of ideas, which place himfirmly within his own zeitgeist. The source is important as it givesa detailed study of form and scope of the story’s characters,without simply mentioning their character and mental abilities.

WorksCited

Anastasaki,Elena. &quotEmbedded and Embodied Poetry in Edgar Allan Poe’s‘Ligeia’ and ‘.’.&quot (2013):207-29.

Blasco, MaríaBenita Nadal. &quot&quot The fall of the house of Usher&quot: amaster text for (Poe`s) American Gothic.&quot&nbspJournalof English Studies&nbsp7(2009): 55-70.

Fisher,Benjamin Franklin.&nbspTheCambridge Introduction to Edgar Allan Poe.Cambridge University Press, 2008.

Hume,Beverly. &quotThe Fall of the House of Marvell: Wharton`s PoesqueRomantic in The Custom of the Country.&quot&nbspAmericanLiterary Realism&nbsp40.2(2008): 137-153.

Jones, Gavin.&quotPoor Poe: On the Literature of Revulsion.&quot&nbspAmericanLiterary History&nbsp(2010):ajq067.

Mezei, Kathy,and Chiara Briganti. &quotReading the house: a literaryperspective.&quot Signs&nbsp40.1(2014).

Perry,Dennis, and Carl Sederholm.&nbspPoe,&quotThe House of Usher,&quot and the American Gothic.Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.

Roche, David.&quotThe&quot Unhealthy&quot in&quot The Fall of the House ofUsher&quot: Poe`s Aesthetics of Contamination.&quot&nbspTheEdgar Allan Poe Review&nbsp(2009):20-35.

Rollason,Christopher. &quotThe&quot Character of Phantasm&quot: Edgar AllanPoe`s Edgar Allan Poe.Atlantis&nbsp(2009):9-22.

Steven, Mark.&quotMovements in the Hollow Coffin: On “The Fall of the House ofUsher”.&quot&nbspPoeStudies&nbsp44.1(2011): 5-15.

Timmerman,John H. &quotHouse of Mirrors: Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Fall ofthe House of Usher”.&quot&nbspEdgarAllan Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart” and Other Stories-NewEdition&nbsp(2009):159-72.

Yang, Amy.&quotPsychoanalysis and Detective Fiction: a tale of Freud andcriminal storytelling.&quot&nbspPerspectivesin biology and medicine&nbsp53.4(2010): 596-604.

Zimmerman,Brett. &quotSensibility, Phrenology, and&quot The Fall of the Houseof Usher&quot.&quot&nbspTheEdgar Allan Poe Review&nbsp(2007):47-56.