ABSTRACT

The existing interpretations concerning the two key questions in Poe's “The Fall of the House of Usher,” that is, the causes of the “nervous agitation” of Roderick Usher and the fall of the House have largely ignored the great amount of ink Poe has spent on the things, which are variously described as, among others, being “dark,” “gloom(y),” “desolate,” and “hideous.” From the beginning to the end of the narrative, the reader has experienced the tension between the evil power of things and the lofty reason of Roderick, which causes the erosion of his rational thoughts or ideas and the ensuing nervous agitation characterized by self-doubt. This tension reaches its climax when the dead Miss Madeline, his twin sister, rises from her coffin and shows furious power of the supposedly lifeless body, which, combined with other things, eventually kills Roderick and overturns the House of Usher, “the radiant palace” of thought. By maneuvering the power of evil things at the narrative's “story” level and “discourse” level, Poe creates the horrible uncanny effects that epitomize his Gothic aesthetics of things.

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