Mental Illness In The Fall Of The House Of Usher

The narrator is the lens through which the reader views the story. Anything that affects the narrator 's storytelling ability has a direct impact on the reader. Horror stories utilize this relationship to frighten readers by making them feel as if the events of the story could happen to them. In horror stories about mental illness, this is most often accomplished through a decline in the mental health of the narrator. In Edgar Allan Poe 's "The Fall of the House of Usher" he uses this technique to add suspense to the story. He starts with a narrator who appears to be rational and in a state of complete mental health. Upon visiting his mentally ill friend, Roderick Usher, the narrator 's own mental faculties begin to fail him. The narrator of …show more content…
Throughout the story, it is clear that there is a strong connection between the house and Usher’s insanity which culminates in the house’s collapse after his and Madeline Usher’s deaths. Usher himself realizes that the house is somehow tied to his declining mental state, going so far as to claim that it is alive. The narrator’s relationship with the house follows this pattern in that he feels fearful and sees evidence of the supernatural in the house’s appearance. At the start of the story, the narrator states, “I know not how it was—but, with the first glimpse of the building, a sense of insufferable gloom pervaded my spirit.” (Poe 234). Even when he has just caught sight of the house, it begins to harm his emotional wellbeing. Additionally he says, “I had so worked upon my imagination as really to believe that about the whole mansion there hung an atmosphere peculiar…which had no affinity with the air of heaven” (Poe 236). Not only does the sight of the house make him feel unnerved, it also initiates his break with reality by causing him to suggest that there was something supernaturally evil about it. These responses to the house’s initial appearance demonstrate the first way in which the narrator begins to decline in the same fashion as …show more content…
This comes as a direct result of the previous developments of wariness of the house and exaggeration of the senses. Roderick Usher follows the same progression, giving into his uneasiness of the house and acute senses until he becomes consumed with fear and ultimately dies of fright. In the narrator’s case, soon after he begins hearing strange noises he becomes “overpowered by an intense sentiment of horror, unaccountable yet unendurable” (Poe 243). This shows how his fears, which could have previously been kept under control, now overwhelm him. This point marks a dark transition in the narrator’s mind; he goes from observing Usher as he experiences inner feelings of terror to becoming an active participant in frightening events. These events (such as the storm, strange noises, and Madeline Usher’s resurrection) provide a contrast to the rest of the story where he experiences only a frightening atmosphere brought on by the house and Usher’s mental state. Poe uses these terrifying events to show how the narrator is becoming more like Usher and beginning to experience a break with reality. This transition and the narrator’s fright are the final aspects of the narrator’s mental

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