The Fall of the House of Usher Essay Example
Three characters, three states of mind, in “The Fall of the House of Usher”, what do these represent? Edgar Allan Poe’s short story, “The Fall of the House of Usher”, we take a peek of the lives of a narrator, and a pair of siblings. Roderick and Madeline Usher, the last of their family, both sick, Roderick asks the narrator to visit, and he feels that something feels off about the entire place. After spending a few weeks, Lady Madeline “passes away”, the trouble seems to spiral from there. Things appear to fall apart and begin to come together at the same time, the narrator barely understands anything that goes on, as if he is in an unconscious state of mind, Roderick seems to recognize everything that happens, he is conscious and aware, as his sister Madeline, completely innocent being and barely initiates her appearance anywhere, such as a pure and quiet soul.
How does the narrator represent the unconscious mind? There is plenty of evidence, but first, it is easy to tell by the way this character acts. He seems to be pretty timid about the place and gets some sort of dark feeling of the overall setting, “Shaking off from my spirit what must have been a dream”(315). He begins to imply that he might be uncomfortable, until he sees his childhood friend, Roderick Usher. As he describes him, we get an undistinguished feeling about him, “...an eye large, liquid, and luminous beyond comparison; lips somewhat thin and very pallid, but of a surpassingly beautiful curve; a nose of a delicate Hebrew model… a finely molded chin…”(317). It appears that he is glad to see a boyhood friend, but is almost entirely oblivious to everything that is going to happen, completely ignoring the offset feeling he has about the house. After all the events that goes on, he has know clue as to what is happening, unlike his friend, Roderick Usher.
The main protagonist of this story, and quite an interesting character, Roderick Usher, the last male of his family, lives with his twin sister, Lady Madeline. The two are supposedly twins, who have lived together for what seems like years. From what I can tell, he might have a mental disorder such as schizophrenia, or depression, or something along those lines. Usher already seems off to the narrator, “...I gazed upon him with a feeling half of pity, half of awe. Surely, man had never before so terribly altered…”(317). There is also another item of information I have seen in this text that brings me to believe that he represents the conscious mind, and this was closer to the end, when he begins to feel guilt for putting his sister in a tomb, alive. They had mistaken her for being dead, even though she wasn’t. With this being said, her brother did not want to separate from her so soon, and the cemetery was quite far, so they kept her in a glass tomb in the dungeon-like basement for what appears to be a few days at my best judgement. “Not hear it?-yes I hear it, and I have heard it… We have put her living in the tomb!... I dared not- I dared not speak!”(328). He knew all along he had put his sister in a tomb whilst she was still alive. The reasoning for it, I honestly cannot say. From what I understand though, Madeline has an illness that causes her to experience death-like trances. Therefore when she was put in the tomb, she would scream due to not being able to make it out, the narrator, as I have previously mentioned, is completely unaware, or unconsciously thinking about this, and passing it off as imagination, while on the other hand, Roderick knew the whole time, but decided not to speak.
Finally, the pure and silent Lady Madeline Usher. Madeline was a quiet character in this story, and we did not hear much about her. What we know is that she is Roderick’s sister, and that she is also significantly sick in the matter of having death-like trances, and various other problems a 19th century woman would have. There are countless debates about Madeline, whether she is real or not, but re-reading this story has made me to believe that she is. For the final state, the soul, I say she fits this role perfectly. She is quite innocent compared to her brother, but then again, this may be wrong, but basing off of the textual evidence that I have, it seems if so she has not done anything wrong, though we do get little information on her.
Lady Madeline lived with her brother in the Usher’s mansion, being they were the last two blood descendants of their family, and were never married. Both have been described to have mental and physical illnesses, and come out to both be almost reaching to their time. She does not make much of an appearance or made any mention of herself during the time being. What may prove this are these quotes, found in the beginning of the story, “...-that the lady, at least while living, would be seen by me no more.” and “For several days ensuing, her name was unmentioned by either Usher or myself;”(319). This to me proves that she was undoubtedly quiet, and/or too sick to be made noticed.
The last two I have noticed of her being innocent, but too quiet to make mention in that time were, “... the mockery of a faint blush upon the bosom and the face, and that suspiciously lingering smile upon the lip which is so terrible in death”(323). This indicates when she was wrongly placed in the tomb, the blush, if it was makeup, then maybe she was in a death-like coma, but blush, or redness of the face, usually indicates if the person is still alive or recently deceased. The last quote I have is, “There was blood upon her white robes… for a moment she remained trembling and reeling to and fro… fell heavily inward upon the person of her brother”(328-329). Showing she was still alive, and barely hanging on to life at that matter, had she just have been left alone and out of the tomb she may have not died right then and there. And on top of her brother, nonetheless, killing him as well by how vigorously she falls onto him, possibly crushing him. A terrible way for either of them to die.
Three characters, three states of mind, this is how I perceive this story. Roderick is aware of everything that happens throughout the story as he and his sister are close to death, putting her in a tomb while she is alive, etc., his sister, innocent, quiet and almost entirely unnoticed throughout the story, and made mention again of her being alive in a tomb, and the unnamed narrator, completely unconscious to how matters fall into place, with the Usher’s way of life, the offset feeling of the house, when Madeline passes so quickly, without notice or cause. This is important to know, to understand who the characters are and how they think during the story. With this knowledge we get a look inside the minds of the characters, as they all think individually, even as made up people, or maybe even real, it proves to show some sort of connection to reality, and this is a perfect understanding of the topic.