The Theme Of Madness In The Fall Of The House Of Usher

Decent Essays
Since Poe was trying to represent the mentally ill both in person and mind he utilized a gothic style and a depressive fearful mood to express the common view of them. The gothic style is characterized by representing the supernatural, having an aura of mystery, and high possibly conflicting emotions. The supernatural elements of the story such as Madelina returning from the dead are used as a call back to when mental illness was believed to be supernaturally induced. Throughout the story the narrator and by extension the reader does not know what is happening to Roderick or what to make of certain events. This captures the lack of knowledge surround mental illness in the Victorian era. Since psychology was in its infancy and medical technology …show more content…
The mentally ill were to not be trusted, they were to be ostracized, and they needed constant care in the form of medication. The story also contained two allegories for the treatment of the mentally ill and for the state of the mind of the artist. The story represents how poorly the mentally ill were treated in the asylums based on Roderick’s interactions with his personal asylum; his home. Poe tried to explain the mind of the artist through this story, essentially saying that to be creative one must have something wrong with their mind. This actually very similar to a modern belief that “there is a very fine line between genius and madness.” However, this points out a major issue with Poe’s intentions, they romanticize and mystify mental illness. As explained by Susan Sontage this treatment of disease leads to misconceptions and the poor treatment of the sick. This story does romanticize mental illness by saying that you are more creative and artistic if you are mentally ill, not to mention it also perpetuates the TB look. Poe also continued the spread of misinformation about the mentally ill, but this was most likely not on purpose and happened due a lack of medical research. Poe’s true intention probably will never be known, but it is evident that through his masterful use of literary devices he was able to portray madness in a very direct yet allegorical

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