‘The fall of the House of Usher’ is a story that is narrated by unknown narrator to the reader, only that, the reader is brought up to speed that he is Roderick Usher’s friend. The rather strange house in this case belongs to Roderick’s family. From what the reader is made to understand by the narrator, the house seems to have been encompassed by demons and the surrounding tells more than meets the naked eyes (Poe, p 13). In what might appear ironic, although the house is slowly but surely wearing out, it appears still intact. Another strange sounding thing is that, although the author portrays the narrator as Usher’s friend, it cannot escape our eyes that he only joins Roderick on receiving a note from him seeking his company. It is ironic in the sense that, the narrator seems to know Roderick’s family so well, yet, the two were staying in different places. He only comes because the message he received from his friend sounds rather scary. This research paper attempts to analyze Poe’s ‘The fall of the House of Usher’. The paper will focus on the literary use of language by the author, thematic concerns, characterization and stylistic devices employed by the author to pass his message. The analysis will focus on how the author has succeeded in using the above in his work.
From when the story commences, the author brings into our mind a state of loneliness and neglect as seen in Usher’s house. The fact that, usher’s family is somehow cursed is clearly brought out by the vivid description of the house. The mind of the reader is prepared that, nothing good is likely to be identified with the house (Liu, p 53). In his description, the narrator observes that, there was only one crack running from the roof of the house downwards. This appears symbolic in the sense that, just like it is the only crack that exists in Usher’s house, similarly, the family associated with the house has only one member being alive in any given generation. This introduces the reader to the theme of death which is equally covered in this story.
In what appears ironic, the narrator stayed away from Usher Roderick and their childhood friendship seems to have been forgotten, yet, he is the only traceable friend he can share his loneliness and feelings of sickness. It is strange that on receiving the letter, the narrator embarks on a journey to rescue his friend (Liu, p 55). In what appears hyperbolic, the narrator shocks everybody that he only comes to learn that usher had a twin sister in her last days. This appears as an overstatement yet ironic, given the circumstances. The setting on a journey to Ushers without a candid reason leaves the reader in suspense on the exact thing the narrator is going to do there.
The description of the house is intertwined with the fate of the characters in the story. Poe has placed his characters in a state of immobility in a dilapidated house on a neglected land. In what seems to be an intent move by the author, the condition in which the house is put limits the movement of the characters while inside (O'Brien & Gide, p 106). In a similar manner, their fate is equally put at stake. The conditions are unbearable and contribute to the demise of Usher’s twin sister following an attack by unknown epidemic. In a similar manner, Usher’s lineage is equally closely related to the house.
The title of the story ‘The fall of the House of Usher’ means a lot than just the literal meaning as it appears. To begin with, there is the structure itself that the narrator describes as shabby and neglected. The dilapidated structure is clearly painted in the mind of the reader by the author using the narrator. Similarly, Roderick’s family was never intact and the members were always dying thus the family fell.
The author has used Usher’s house as a metaphor to pass his message to the reader. When the narrator finds himself inside the house and cannot leave, it sheds more light to the reader on just how the family is entangled by hardships. Given that the family of Roderick has no continuous lineage is clearly seen by the events that take place in the house (Liu, p 60). It is in this house that Madeline met her death and she was buried inside there in a bid to prevent medical experts to carry out some tests on her in their attempts to unravel what caused her death. The author deliberately causes Madeline to die when she is still very young to add weight on the unfortunate curse that befalls the family. It does not get the reader by surprise that she dies of unknown epidemic. This is surely the fall of the house of Usher.
In yet another hyperbole, the narrator reveals to the reader that he only came to notice that Roderick and Madeline were twins in the process of burying her. This sounds rather satirical in the ears of the reader, given that, the narrator admits categorically that he was a childhood friend of Roderick. The fact that he again admits to know Roderick’s sister on the burial day is in itself satirical (O'Brien & Gide, p 176). The author deliberately uses the narrator to add weight on just how this family was scattered and was in a move to collapse just like the title suggests. Putting into consideration that Roderick was his childhood friend, it is expected that the sister was growing together with the brother which is not the case. It also beats logic that the narrator on receiving a letter from his friend he immediately set out on a journey to rescue him ignorantly not aware of what had befallen him.
The author in a rather strange way gives power to the dead to come back to life. This is exactly what happens to Madeline who keeps appearing in Roderick’s mind. When this is happening, we learn all this from the narrator who distances himself from the major characters. Roderick keeps recalling her dead twin sister (Liu, p 83). The dead are given extra-ordinary powers to put pressure on those who have been left behind. Given that the death of Madeline is meant to heighten the message home that indeed the house of Usher collapsed, she keeps on coming back. This can analyzed to mean that, the house in terms of human beings collapsed and although it keeps on coming back, it simply can’t. The memory of her late sister by Roderick brings her back to life. This is probably meant to show the love he had for her. From this ordeal, the author shows that indeed love for somebody can overtake death.
The author has alluded from poetry to drive his message home. ‘The Haunted Palace’ alongside ‘Mad trist’ is used by the author in his work. The two are symbolic of how Madeline escaped from her burial site. In a house that never seemed to associate itself with the outside world, it appears mysterious how out of nowhere Roderick invited his friend to go help him in carrying what he was sharing. From the beginning of the story, the narrator is introduced to so many things that the reader come to notice later, triggered the collapse of this rather cursed family (O'Brien & Gide, p 200). By Roderick deciding to seek help from outside, he marked the fall of his house. The fall of the house despite soliciting aid from friends, is only a confirmation that the family was meant to be like that.
The thematic issue of death is seen in several incidences. For instance, Madeline met her death after she fell ill to a disease that doctors could not tell its cure let alone knowing what it was. The childhood friend of the narrator and Roderick can be termed a rather dead. This is because, the narrator learns so many things as only when he meets his friend again including even the most obvious, her sister Madeline. The house on the hand seemed to be dying slowly but surely. When the story commences, the house is described in a state that tells the reader that it is likely to collapse sooner than expected. It is surely meeting its death slowly. The author does not mention the parents of Roderick and Madeline in the story (O'Brien & Gide, p 212). Going by the revelation that the generation that formed this family never seemed to stay for long, it sends the message that they must have died long time ago when the two were still very young.
Fate is equally a thematic concern addressed by Poe in his story. Fate does not seem to work for this unfortunate family. Their destiny is encompassed by what everybody fears, death. The destiny of the narrator is equally held at stake. He sets out on a journey to go witness the unfortunate incidences that befall his friend’s family (Liu, p 113). The fact that he left his home to go rescue his friend is beaten by logic when Madeline dies in his presence. The house of usher is meant to fall and surely it does, in the eyes of the narrator.
Love and friendship is equally addressed by the author. On receiving a letter from a long time friend, the narrator embarks on a journey to go rescue him. This indicates the level of friendship between the two given that they had stayed for long without setting eyes on each other (Poe, p 63). The fact that he does not even know Roderick’s sister, the narrator shares his grief by assisting him to bury his only sister. On the other hand, Roderick seems to honor their friendship and he calls for help from his friend when the worst happens. Friends don’t seem to betray each other as seen by the reader. Although the narrator seems to be aware of what befalls this family, he does not neglect his friend in time of need. This is a high sense of friendship.
To conclude, Poe has employed different literary devices to pass his message to the reader. He has managed to intertwine different events in the text to lay emphasis on his message, which he surely hammers home. From when the story commences, the author has managed to bring issues on the surface that elaborates on the title ‘The fall of the House of Usher’.