College Papers

The describe the surroundings, such as “…upon a

The Fall of the house of Usher Edgar Allan Poe, one of the most respected authors of Dark Romanticism, hides great emotion and feeling through heavily yet miraculously imbued symbolism. In Poe’s poem “The Fall of the house of Usher” Mr. Poe seems to ease into the back of the head somehow relating his symbolism to reader’s fears and emotions, even with the gloomy moods and settings applied. Dark Romanticism is a literary sub genre of Romanticism, which reflects a popular interest in the irrational, grotesque, and the demonic. Often, Dark Romanticism is blended with Gothicism, a style that is characterized with gloomy settings, but often follows the more traditional euphoric side of Romanticism. However, in “The Fall of the house of Usher” Poe presents fear of the unknown. In the opening lines of the poem the narrator is unsure why his boyhood friend, Roderick Usher, had sent him a letter to visit him, but “with a first glimpse of the building, a sense of insufferable gloom pervaded…”. Although this engages the narrator into fear of the unknown, it also puts the readers onto the same page as the narrator, building suspense from not knowing what is wrong with the building. Furthermore, the narrator uses a wide variety of adjectives to describe the surroundings, such as  “…upon a few white trunks of decayed trees –with an utter depression of soul… The bitter lapse into everyday life… There was an iciness, a sinking, a sickening of the heart…” In addition to the narrator’s concern, this describing pattern of the narrators surroundings help couple readers and the narrator to the same foundation of questioning and concern. Equally important to the setting of the story is the mood it is creating at the same time, which also is meant to affect point of view. This really taps into the theme of fear and unknown, which are key points of Dark Romanticism. It is fear that drives the story, fear that traps the narrator, and fear that kills Roderick Usher. Poe foreshadows the fear Roderick has towards the beginning of the story: “There can be no doubt that the consciousness of the rapid increase of my superstition…is the paradoxical law of all sentiments having terror as a basis.” Roderick Usher even states himself “I have… no abhorrence of danger, except for in its absolute effect– in terror.” Moreover, Roderick Usher is stating that he does not fear death, but fear itself. Lastly, it is Roderick’s fear of fear that leads to his unfortunate death in the end, when his sister Madeline returns from the dead and scares him to death. Definitely, Poe successfully conveyed the theme that having so much fear will take over your life by using the traditional gothic theme of Romanticism, using supernatural assets. Naturally, readers will try to look deeper into the hidden meanings behind Roderick’s extreme fear and all of the supernatural aspects, such as Madeline, that create the mood and them making the readers more immersed into the story. As has been noted, Roderick and Madeline’s house is the physical manifestation of Roderick’s extreme fear that he cannot control. Again, when the narrator returns because of a letter from his boyhood friend Roderick, in which “The writer spoke of acute bodily illness — of a mental disorder which oppressed him…” shows the first sign of Roderick’s fear manifesting. Also, when the narrator gets to Roderick’s house, he speaks of the toxic environment around it and how “…The house seemed to be living.” It was also said by the narrator that the Usher family had always dwindled away. With Roderick and Madeline being the last Ushers, it was very likely that Roderick feared his fear of being alone without his family. After Madeline’s death, Roderick went mad and screamed “We buried her alive!” to the narrator, until Madeline awoke from the dead and scared him to death. Edgar Allen Poe’s works are still an amazing example of what Dark Romanticism is to this day. Using grotesque, dark and natural elements to incorporate his rather odd symbolism is really unique in comparison to traditional romanticism. The emotion and feeling that Poe gives to the readers in his stories is very well coupled with the gloomy moods his literature contains. Poe absolutely conveys his odd messages such as, having enough fear will control your life, in a well defined manner. Summing up, Edgar Allan Poe has very well earned his title as Literary Genius.