The Mental Illnesses Presented in the Fall of the House of Usher Essay Example


The effects of mental disorders can be triggered due to a large variety of events and or situations placed upon an individual. In “Bartleby the Scrivener” and “The Fall of the House of Usher”, the authors use poorly matched environments to emphasize the mental illnesses present in both Bartleby and Roderick. 

In the Fall of the House of Usher, the main character Roderick, derives from a long line of Ushers. Him and his sister Madeline, are the last two surviving members of the family. However, Roderick posses a negative side effect of the exclusive family lineage; a mental illness as an effect of intermerital affairs. To help resolve Roderick’s sense of being the narrator visits the usher house, to aid his dear friend from his childhood. As exercises “[They] painted and read together; or [the narrator] listened, as if in a dream, to the wild improvisations of his speaking guitar. And thus as a closer and closer still intimacy admitted me more unreservedly into the recesses of his spirit...in one unceasing radiation of gloom” (7). Music and art allows Roberick to escape from his reality. However, even after death, and being locked away in a tomb, Madeline finds way to ‘come back from the dead”. 

“There was blood upon her white robes, and the evidence of some bitter struggle upon every portion of her emaciated frame. For a moment she remained trembling and reeling to and fro upon the threshold—then, with a low moaning cry, fell heavily inward upon the person of her brother, and in her violent and now final death-agonies, bore him to the floor a corpse, and a victim to the terrors he had anticcipated” (12). 

This shows the need that two siblings require from each other. While Roderick is menalty ill, Madeline suffers from physical ailments. When Madeline was alive, Roberick possessed a form of control over the house along with himself. When she passed, their need for one another grew and that control vanished. 

In Bartleby the Scrivener, Bartlbey is an employee in Wall Street in New York City. This way of life and work has pushed Bartleby to a point of no return, that has triggered seemingly undiagnosed series of mental outbursts. When the lawyer requested Bartleby “...to examine a small paper... Imagine [to the lawyers] surprise, nay, [his] consternation, when without moving from [Bartleby's] privacy, Bartleby in a singularity mild firm voice, replied, “I would prefer not to””(9). To Bartleby denying to do such work means gives him a sense of power, power that is used above his boss.

However, there is a limit to the kindness that the lawyer can provide to Bartleby. After a fair exchange of “I would prefer not to”’s, the lawyer realized “[He] might give alms to his body; but his body did not pain him; it was his soul that suffered, and his soul [he] could not reach” (15). Providing him with more money, a better position etc will not aid his soul. His soul thrives for something greater, something that the lawyer cannot properly obtain.

For Roderick, his mental illness was present but the death of his sister and erriness of the house worsened his issues. For Bartleby, his mental illness was already present but later affected his ability to properly work. Both men have problems that seem to lack the ability to be resolved, but both have people in their lives that try to make their situation less detrimental.

 

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