The End Of Reality In Poe's 'Mad Trist'

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Nearing the close of the story, Roderick and the narrator have completely devolved. While the guitar ballad was presented as a continuous vision, the narrator fades in and out of reality when reading “Mad Trist.” Moreover, “Mad Trist” is Poe’s own creation. Neither the story nor the author, Sir Lancelot Canning, exist. The narrator pauses repeatedly, fancying he hears “a low and apparently distant, but harsh, protracted, and most unusual screaming or grating sound” (Poe 24) that matches the cry of the dragon described in “Mad Trist.” It becomes impossible to differentiate the fiction from reality. Roderick’s body language echoes the flow of the narrative in this passage “[rocking] from side to side with a gentle yet constant and uniform sway” in the same way the narrator fades in and out of reality. Again, Roderick reverts to childlike behavior to protect himself from his fear.…show more content…
The building hysteria finally culminates in the return of Madeline Usher. With her final death, she takes with her Roderick. Madeline is the tie of Roderick and the narrator to the tangible world. In her absence, their grip on reality grows increasingly nebulous until they implode. Without her, regression to childhood is impossible and so Roderick dies. Excluded from the sibling relationship, the narrator is allowed to survive and flees from the House to the storm raging outside. Stripped of its patriarchal ties to humanity, the House crumbles, swallowed by the “deep and dark tarn” (Poe 25). By effectively conflating Madeline’s absence with insanity, the existing prejudices against women during the Victorian era are used to stigmatize mental
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