Theme Of Duality In The Fall Of The House Of Usher

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A doppelgänger, literally a “double-goer”, is a double of a person taking the form of either another individual or paranormal phenomena. In Edgar Allan Poe’s gothic tale, The Fall of the House Of Usher, he uses the motif of duality, and it’s inverse in order to represent mental illness and the interconnectedness of the body and mind. In the work, the dilapidated mansion is used to mirror the mental state of its inhabitants. Through descriptive imagery of the structure, Poe provides insight into the Roderick’s current and future mental state. The relationship Roderick and his sister Madeline is dichotic in nature and mirror the connection between one’s body and mind. Roderick, the embodiment of the human intellect or the mind, is physically …show more content…
During the opening of the tale, the house has a distinct but “barely perceptible fissure, which, [extends] from the roof of the building in the front [and] makes its way down the wall in a zig-zag direction”(3). Initially, this crack is very hard to see much like the nuances of Roderick’s descent into madness. Upon meeting him, it is clear to the narrator that Usher, other than his appearance, is not well. The narrator describes him as a man whose “action was alternately vivacious and sullen” and “his voice varied rapidly from a tumultuous indecision to…energetic concision”(4). He is very clearly sick but can still function in a manner that it is rather acceptable, much like the house (broken but still standing). As the story progresses and the house begins to fall apart, so does Roderick. A storm begins to tear the house apart and as it becomes more and more disheveled, so does Usher. During the climax of the violence, he appears to go unconscious and begins to “[speak] in a low, hurried, and gibbering murmur”(14). This eventually evolves into a full-fledged wail as he accuses the narrator of assuming he is a “MADMAN!”(14). After it is revealed that his sister, is, in fact, alive and appears in the doorway with “blood upon her white robes, and the evidence of some bitter struggle upon every portion of her emaciated frame”(14), the narrator rushes out of the house in …show more content…
The motif of duality and mirror is omnipresent throughout and is used in order to effectively highlight Roderick’s descent into madness and the connection between the mind and body. The physical condition of the House of Usher mirrors both the physical and mental condition of Usher himself. As the house begins to break down, so does Roderick. Together the siblings represent the dichotic relationship between the mind and the body. Roderick, the mind, can not live without Madeline, the body. Once the two become separated, they both begin to disintegrate. The use of doppelgängers and doubling is a common motif within gothic literature and Poe uses it effectively to illustrate the effects of mental illness on the human

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