“The Fall of the House of Usher,” a gothic fiction short story written by Edgar Allan Poe, is pervaded by multiple examples of post-structuralist philosopher Jacques Derrida’s philosophy of trace. A close examination of the narrative reveals a distinct trace between incestual conception and the current condition of the Usher siblings through the physical and mental hinders which oppress them; a relationship between the occupants of the Usher estate and the trace of themselves which they inflict on the outside of it; and the traces of the author’s personal life within the storyline through the motif of live entombment. Articulated by philosopher Jacques Derrida, the philosophy of trace identifies the relationship between the absent and the presence …show more content…
The trace has, properly speaking, no place, for effacement belongs to the very structure of the trace. (Derrida 156) In existing, trace becomes the mechanism by which it endures effacement; for all things which exist in the present automatically display traces of absent signifiers which may never exist, in their totality, in the present. Riddled with Derrida’s notion of trace, “The Fall of the House of Usher” most evidently presents trace through the reverberations of genetic trace. Prior to the narrator’s visitation of the Usher estate, he describes the means by which the Usher family furthers its lineage: I had learned . . . that the stem of the Usher race . . . had put forth, at no period, any enduring branch; in other words, that the entire family lay in the direct line of descent, and had always, with very trifling and very temporary variation, so lain. (Poe 2) Despite the incestual means of their conception occurring in the past, resulting genetic defects oppress the Usher siblings Madeline and Roderick—both physically and mentally—well into the future. Although the narrator provides no physical description of Madeline Usher prior to her entombment, of her brother Roderick he reports deformed features in line with those of products of
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His sister is his only heir, and his only chance to keep the family from dying out. His sister contracts a disease, thus causing Usher to become mad, as the story progresses slowly. Throughout the story, Edgar Allen Poe uses many forms of literary elements, such as images and descriptive words, to frighten the reader. A paradigm of this imagery is exhibited in paragraph 11 when Roderick Usher explains his mental illness to the narrator, and he confesses he’s not afraid of danger, “except in its absolute effect–in terror”, and how he has begun to question whether or not he should, “abandon life and reason together” because of his, “struggle with the grim phantasm, FEAR. "
In his short story, “The Fall of the House of Usher,” Edgar Allen Poe uses foreshadowing to show how Roderick is sad to let go of Madeline. A quote showing this is: The disease which had thus entombed the lady in the maturity of her youth, had left, as usual in all maladies of a strictly cataleptical character, 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. We replaced and screwed down the lid, and, having secured the door of iron, made our way, with toil, into the scarcely less gloomy apartments of the upper portion of the house (Poe 403).
Many people believe in hunting in The Fall of the House of Usher, but malnutrition is a more logical explanation. Many people believe in haunting because when the house fell, the Usher line died with it. The logic behind malnutrition is based on Roderick’s symptoms. “Malnutrition is the condition that develops when the body does not get the right amount of the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients it needs to maintain healthy tissues and organ function.”
In “The Fall of the House of Usher” Rodrick, although rational at the start, by slow degrees becomes insane about his house, and about his dead wife/ sister. By the end of the tale he is very deranged, and mentally disconnected. The tale thus represents the fall of reason, the inability of the rational mind to make sense of a chaotic universe. At the beginning one can tell that Roderick has unusual mental properties.
In “Fall Of House Of Usher” the brother is revealed as mentally ill and kills the sister. “ Madman! I tell you that she now stands without the door!” ( Poe 30). However, in “ House Taken Over” the brother ends up saving the sister and they disappear.
In answering the question, the theme that I will be discussing is that of premature burial in the short stories of Edgar Allan Poe. Premature burial is a theme that appears in a number of Poe 's stories such as Berenice, The Fall of the House of Usher, Ligeia and, of course, The Premature Burial. As Wolf says, "Poe must have been virtually obsessed with the idea of being buried alive" (289). The first of Poe 's stories I will discuss with reference to this theme is The Fall of the House of Usher.
However, the gloom furthers itself when the main character finally arrives upon the House of Usher property where he sees that the house has bleak walls, vacant eyelike windows, white trunks of decaying trees, and there is a crack that zigzags from the corner roof of the home to the opposite bottom corner, which the house later is a symbol of Roderick Usher and his mental health. Roderick
“The Fall of the House of Usher” describes fears that many people in that time period had. With all of the evidence in the story, it can be concluded that Roderick and Madeline are vampires, as evidenced by their appearances and their diseases which show that they are vampires. The appearance of Roderick and Madeline is very vampire like. Roderick is very pale and slim.
However, “The Fall of the House of Usher” by Edgar Allen Poe was like a cardio workout at the gym; it's boring and strenuous but a necessary pain. The short story gave me an insight into the target audience in the 18th century. This along with learning about my classmates’
Gothic elements can be present through atmospheres. The narrator speaks of "an utter depression of soul" (Poe293) of which "[he] can compare to no earthly sensation...than to the after-dream of the reveller upon opium"(293). The narrator expresses multiple emotions with the Gothic element, gloomy atmosphere, to reveal to the reader how the display of the terrifying and sinful house has affected the narrator in a negative way. After the narrator had fled from the mansion, he saw as the "entire orb of the satellite burst at once" (309) and how he heard "shouting... and the deep and dank tarn at [his] feet closed sullenly and silently"(309) over the destroyed pieces of the mansion. Gothic element is used to express to the reader how the gloomy atmosphere of the house of Usher was destroyed after the last family members, Usher and his sister, death indicates to the ending of Usher 's family blood line.
In “The Fall of the House of Usher” the tone gives off an eerie and bizarre feeling. This is similar to many of Poe’s other short stories but this piece the most. The tone is gloomy compared to “The Black Cat” that Poe has also written. The author starts off the story with immense details of the setting. The readers get a dark vibe from these details.
Roderick and Madeline Usher have been riddled with many illnesses as a result of the many generations hailing from a “direct line of descent” (Poe 196). The twins are the last members of their family and are on the edge of extinction. It can be possible that the Usher’s had turned their backs on God and “betrayed the Holy Ghost in themselves” (The Fall of the House of Usher 167). As the last of the Usher House, Madeline and Roderick symbolize the end of “an Enlightenment tradition still standing but about to collapse” (The Fall of the House of Usher 167).
“ The Fall of the House of Usher “ by Edgar Allan Poe is a short story about a man named Roderick Usher who initiates some events such as evoking his friend The Narrator as a protagonist to the dreadful mansion. The images such as the house and gothic ambience are used to reinforce the idea of giving the mystery to the reader. Edgar Allan Poe uses gothic elements to show how they affect the atmosphere and the characters. In the beginning , the gothic atmosphere of the house is indicated with terrifying images such as “ dull, dark and soundless ” that the feeling of horror vaccinated into reader by the thoughts of the narrator.
In the “Fall of the House of Usher,” Roderick Usher prematurely buries his sister, Madeline Usher, because he thinks she has died from an unknown illness. Poe describes the burial as, “We replaced and screwed down the lid, and having secured the door of iron, made out the way with the toll…” (Poe 425). When Roderick bolted the iron lid upon his sister’s coffin, all trust that had previously been built between the two had been broken. In Poe’s life, after the burial of his wife and mother, he felt like he could never trust anyone as well.