Another one of Edgar Allan Poe’s tales that did not fail to chill the readers! In the story, “The Fall of the House of Usher”, Poe presents the history of the end of a notable and illustrious family. As usual with Poe’s poems and tales, setting and mood contributed greatly in this tale. Poe’s descriptions of the house itself as well as the people living in the house thereof invoke in the reader a feeling of gloom and terror. It can be seen by Poe’s description of the house and how it connects to the inhabitants, Roderick and Madeline Usher, and their traits.
Poe uses several descriptive words in his perspective of the house. My first impression of the house came from a direct observation from the unnamed narrator. The narrator states “…with the first glimpse of the building, a sense of insufferable gloom pervaded my spirit.” As the narrator continues to describe the house, he uses several similarly ghastly adjectives. The gloom experienced by the narrator is not limited to merely the house itself. The vegetation that surrounded the house is described as “a few rank sedges and upon a few white trunks of decayed tress.” He emphasizes the details of the house and its surroundings by restating the descriptions reflected in a “black and lurid tarn.” The narrator also points out that the house seems to be in a poor and damaged condition. He also described the windows as “vacant and eye-like.” The narrator basically almost personifies the house and gives the status of character to the house. Lastly, another unique feature of the house that narrator described for us is “a barely perceptible fissure, which, extending from the roof of the building in front, made its way down the wall in zigzag direction, until it becomes lost in the sullen waters of the tarn.” It is pretty interesting to me on how much the narrator focuses on the details of the house.
One of the Ushers we are introduced is Roderick. When the narrator meets and greets him, he was appalled by Roderick’s appearance. Such descriptions would be “a cadaverousness of complexion”, “lips somewhat thin and very pallid”, and “an eye large, liquid, and luminous beyond comparison.” From looking at these descriptions, it seems that Roderick was once a very healthy person. The narrator also sees Madeline and gives a description of her. When she moves around the house, without noticing the narrator, she is regarded with an utter “astonishment not unmingled with dread.” He also gives us a report of her condition, which included a gradual wasting away of the women.
After reading the tale, it can be seen that there are similarities between the building and the family living in it. Poe draws a comparison between the two by emphasizing the length of both. The house is described as an “excessive antiquity.” Similarly, Poe states that the Usher family is “time-honored” one, which implies a long heritage. He compares the eye-like mirror windows to Roderick’s eye. The decayed white trees reflect Roderick’s ashen appearance. Also the weariness of stones surrounding the house foreshadows Madeline’s destruction. One of the Poe’s comparisons that stroked me the most was the climax of the story. The presumed dead Madeline reappears and her appearance frightened her brother so much that he died from the terror. The narrator runs away from the scene but as he is leaving, he takes another look at the house. The “once barely-discernible fissure” has widened. This led the house to split and come crumbling down. So the final comparison is drawn between the house and the family. Just as the familial lineage of the Usher’s has ended with the deaths of Roderick and Madeline, the fissure’s widening destroyed the ancestral home of the Ushers. Poe ends the tale with “the fragments of the House of Usher” referring not only to the house but also the family itself.
This is what I believed Roderick Usher would look like. This is closest thing to what the narrator described of when he met Roderick after a long time. He was appalled by how much Roderick looks weak and almost inhuman with his sullen facial and bodily features.