Examples Of Dualism In The Fall Of The House Of Usher

Submitted By AHorseOutside
Words: 795
Pages: 4

Steven Simpson
Mr. Cummings
English 11CP Period 4
26 November 2012
Dismal Thoughts and Mental Fissures Edgar Allen Poe, in his short story “The Fall of the House of Usher,” focuses on an unnamed narrator who is asked by his childhood friend Roderick Usher, who has been afflicted with a disease of the mind, to keep him company and help him from mentally deteriorating. Ultimately, Roderick’s spirits are not lifted as he had hoped they would be and a strange turn of events leads to the fall of the house of Usher. It is through the Gothic devices of duality, the unnamed/unstable narrator, and the decaying manor that reflect a gloomy and terrifying atmosphere as the story progresses. For instance, duality is used throughout the story to reflect a frightening and somber atmosphere right from the start. When the unnamed narrator first arrives at the House of Usher, describes how he believes the reflection of the manor might look less ominous than the real thing. He looks down and reflects that, merely by rearranging the particulars of the scene, he could possibly annihilate, “it’s capacity for sorrowful impression”; and, acting upon this idea, he reins his horse to the brink of a “black and lurid tarn,” and gazes down upon the remodeled and inverted images in the sedge- but with a shudder even more thrilling than before (http://www.online-literature.com/poe/31/). As he reflects upon the reflection, he realizes it has a ghost like appearance. He shudders in fear as he realizes the ghostly evil in the tarn and surrounding terrain has seeped into the house it’s self. Furthermore, the narrator, while talking to Roderick, sees the lady Madeline pass through a remote section of the apartment. He regards her with, “utter astonishment not unmingled by dread” and later finds out that this woman is actually Roderick’s twin sister (http://www.online-literature.com/poe/31/). Seeing her for the first time, he is overcome by a sense of dread due to her disturbing appearance. Representing Roderick’s other half, she is deteriorating, like him, along with the manor it’s self and her eventual “death”/ reappearance, to kill Roderick in her last moments of life, contributes to the horrifying atmosphere of the story. In addition, the inconsistent narrator helps add to the grim air of the story by keeping the readers on edge. For the duration of the story the unnamed protagonist tells things in a way that would lead readers to assume Roderick is crazy rather than him but, upon closer inspection, some would come to the realization that the narrator himself is the psychotic one. To illustrate, eight days after entombing the lady Madeline, her brother, tense with scarcely restrained hysteria, rushes into the narrator’s room in the middle of the night and frantically gestures towards the storm raging outside the window. The story teller explains to him that the storm is nothing more than common electrical phenomena and begins reading to him to calm him down. Then, Madeline suddenly appears in the doorway, “covered in