Essay On The Fall Of The House Of Usher

1328 Words6 Pages
Rife with repression, the Victorian era sought an outlet through media. During this time, there was an influx of stories of the supernatural, vampires in particular. For a culture so steeped in shame, the versatility of the vampiric characters enabled discussion of taboo topics; namely, mental illness and homosexuality. Such Gothic tales as “The Fall of the House of Usher”, “Ligeia”, and “Carmilla” utilize vampirism to simultaneously vilify mental illness and homosexuality while still romanticizing the suffering caused by these subjects. This essay will focus on the vampiric character created in Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher” in the form of Madeline Usher. Madeline’s absence in “The Fall of the House of Usher,” and subsequent vampirism, reveals the stigmatization of both mental illness and homosexuality in Victorian culture. Madeline’s Usher vampiric identity is shrouded in the same…show more content…
Upon his arrival to the House, the narrator remarks on Roderick’s radical physical degeneration. “I gazed upon him with a feeling half of pity, half of awe. Surely, man had never before so terribly altered, in so brief a period, as had Roderick Usher!” (Poe 16). Roderick resembles nothing of the joyous boy the narrator knew in his youth. Both the Usher twins are devolving; Madeline similarly suffers from “a settled apathy, a gradual wasting away of the person” (Poe 18). As twins, Roderick and Madeline are intrinsically linked. Their relationship “implies a merging of gender identities” (Jordan 8). They grow and fail together before they “reach adolescence, and gender roles force the twins into different lives” (Mink 72). This divergence of identities is pivotal, transforming the twins’ relationship from mutualistic to parasitic. Where before the Ushers were healthy, their current failure to thrive indicates a lack of balance in their relationship, the majority usurped by
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