I don’t know about you, but I would hate to be in the House of Usher.
upon the bleak walls — upon the vacant eye-like windows — upon a few rank sedges — and upon a few white trunks of decayed trees
As the narrator describes its exterior, I couldn’t help but replay all the scary movies I’ve ever seen. A house was often old with a landscape that would send chills down your spine, a house just like Roderick Usher’s. The interior was just as gloomy. Through the narrator’s walk down the “Gothic archway” he mentions the color black and dark drapery a lot. Darkness is all over the inside of the Usher home. It is by no coincidence that the exterior decaying of the home matches the old and dreary feeling of its interior.
You can tell a lot about someone by the upkeep of their homes and that’s because where someone lives reflects their actual self. Messy people live in untidy homes, organized people keep their place spotless, artsy people with their fancy paintings, or modern folks with their straight-edged furniture. In this case, Roderick Usher is as mysterious and dark as his place of dwelling. Because he feels lonely and his sister is very ill, he requests for a friend to comfort him. This need for comfort is also seen throughout the appearance of the home. The narrator’s description makes it seem like the house was ready to fall apart, it sounds like it needs someone to take care of it. We can read this home as a holder of secrets and strong connection to the generations of the Usher clan. Not many people really know the family, which is also reflected in the confinement a home can portray. Even if the narrator is a friend of Roderick, we discover he doesn’t really know him that well.
Then, Roderick’s sister dies and his grief grows even more. One night he goes mad, claiming he’s seen some kind of figure or light outside the window. The narrator tries to ease his friend’s mind by reading a story, but it doesn’t work. It is important to point out that Roderick doesn’t really leave the home or try to find out what that light really was. Again, Poe touches on the home as a place of confinement.
Finally, after the constant noises and Roderick diving deeper into hysteria, we witness his sister coming back to life. SHE ATTACKS HIM AND HE DIES?! INSANITY. If I witnessed that, I would have done the exact same thing as the narrator, I’d run! And as he fled the home, he saw it crumble to the ground. The weak, dark, mysteriously scary home, finally gave in.
It was really interesting to draw the parallel between the house and its inhabitants. The exterior and interior descriptions were not only identical physically, but a mental reflection of the people in the home as well–especially Roderick Usher.
This image captures Roderick Usher exactly like I pictured him in my mind. He looks so sad and lonely, and his surroundings match that feeling. I also like the fact that he is sitting in a chair because it reminds me of the moment the narrator meets him. It again, reflects a sort of immovable state, where he is stationed within his home and will not leave it.
P.S I fear searching images for our readings. They always have scary images that give me the creeps! But it’s also really fun because there’s just so much creativity out there! These artist really take their time manifesting these characters and stories. I think it’s awesome!
Here’s a really good reading of Edgar Allan Poe’s Fall of the House of Usher.