The Fall of the House of Usher Term Paper
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Example Term Paper on “The Fall of the House of Usher”
Imagine hearing a song or reading a story that suddenly becomes your life and what is going on around you. This happens to one man in “The Fall of the House of Usher“. As the story opens, the narrator is traveling to his friend Roderick Usher’s home in response to a letter from Roderick. The letter sounded dire and important; therefore he could not deny him the visit (Poe 234). As the narrator arrives at the house, he is confronted with eerie surroundings.
Days later, Roderick sings him a ballad about a palace that seems like the very house where they reside. Then, near the end of his visit, he reads a tale of a hero that is closely followed by the strangest coincidence of all. In his work “The Fall of the House of Usher,” Edgar Allan Poe makes great use of parallels and foreshadowing to contribute to the overall horror of the story.
On the first day of the narrator’s visit, he notices many strange similarities between the house and the people who resided within. The area around the house is dark and desolate. Dying hedges and decaying trees are strewn about the landscape. Also, the house lies next to a gloomy, dark tarn. The house itself is much like the landscape. A fungus covers it and it seems “excessively antique” (Poe 236). It contains a fissure that ran from roof to foundation, splitting the house in two. On the interior, it is dark and gloomy and some of the ceiling is out of sight, due to the shadows. The furniture is old and seems uncomfortable. When the narrator meets Roderick and his sister, he finds them to be much like the house. Roderick and his sister have a split personality, much like how the house has a fissure separating the house in half. He also looks very gloomy and gray. His hair is like cobwebs atop his head (237). His sister, Madeline, is more physically ill with a severe case of catatonia. When she is in a trance, she can look and act like she is dead for a number of days. The narrator finds that house and its occupants turn out to be a reflection of eachother.
After the course of a few days, Roderick sings an eerie ballad of a palace that is very similar to the Usher house. “The Haunted Palace” begins by detailing of prosperous times. The palace was “stately” and “radiant” (Poe 240). However, evil comes. It attacks the palace and destroys almost everything. The occupants become much like Roderick and Madeline, alone and desolate. The house has not always been in the condition it is now. The family was prosperous, but the house became unkempt and deteriorated as each family branch it made soon died off. There are strong parallels between the Haunted Palace and the House of Usher.
Near the conclusion of his visit, the narrator reads Roderick a tale named “The Mad Trist of Sir Launcelot Canning,” that which is soon followed by a strange coincidence. Unfortunately, Madeline has been prematurely entombed, and Roderick is becoming more and more mentally ill every day. One night, the narrator decides to read Roderick a tale to soothe his nerves. In this tale a hero is in pursuit of a goal – a shield which he believes to be in a hermit’s lair. As the narrator reads this story, he begins to hear noises in the further reaches of the house. When he reads about the hero smashing the door to the hermit’s lair, he hears a very similar sound in the house (Poe 243). He then reads of Sir Launcelot’s attack on the dragon and hears an even more prominent crack. Then, when the hero retrieves the shield, Madeline comes crashing through the door. She walks across the room, falls onto Roderick, and the both of them die (Poe 244). The story the narrator reads is almost exactly parallel to what is happening to him in Poe’s story.
These many strange parallels and foreshadowed events are what come together and make this story achieve Poe’s objective of horror. The house and people within being so eerily alike shocks and frightens the narrator and reader alike. In addition, Roderick’s ballad predicts what is going to happen to the Usher family. Finally, the story parallels the end of both Roderick and Madeline’s lives. This story was a horror in the true sense of the word.