Evidently this is reflected in “The Fall of the House of Usher. ” Conjointly, Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher” properly displays elements of American Gothic Literature through bleak setting, macabre incidents, and supernatural presence. Many great stories contain a very fanciful setting to establish believability in the mind of the reader. The author constructs a particular setting as a motive, to create conflict, or to create a mood. A story written in the American Gothic style takes place in an outlandish, dismal location, usually to build a feeling of discomfort in the reader.
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Violent or macabre incidents are often used in American Gothic Literature to present imposing, though quite unsettling, portraits of the human experience by way of terror. Poe accomplishes this in “The Fall of the House of Usher” at what time Madeline Usher reappears at the end of the story, covered in blood and kills Roderick Usher. “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 anticipated,” (“The Fall” 328-329). Poe creates a similar a similar mood at the very beginning of the “Masque of the Red Death” when he describes the Red Death itself. “No pestilence had ever been so fatal, so hideous. Blood was its Avatar and it’s seal—the redness and the horror of blood.
There were sharp pains and sudden dizziness, and then profits bleeding at the pores, with dissolution. The scarlet stains upon the body and especially upon the face of the victim, were the pest ban which shut him out from the aid and from the sympathy of his fellow men. And the whole seizure, progress and termination of the disease, were the incidents of half an hour,”
Page 2 Fall of the House of Usher Literary Analysis Essay
(“The Masque” 340-341). One would imagine that given Poe’s ongoing battle with tuberculosis he was most likely preoccupied with death, which is reflected on both “The Fall of the House of Usher” and “The Masque of the Red Death. As is well know, one of the symptoms of advanced tuberculosis is the coughing up of blood. Poe uses blood to symbolize death in both stories. Psychologically and physically tormented characters appear in American Gothic Literature to satisfy the reader’s latent desire to participate within the story at a cerebral level. It is important to have the human element in any giving situation so the reader has someone to empathize within the story. Although Roderick and Madeline Usher in “The Fall of the House of Usher” are both certainly delirious, Edgar Allan Poe provides the reader with more examples of Roderick Usher’s mental anguish.