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In "The Fall of the House of Usher", is there any significance to Roderick...

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black232 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted February 27, 2008 at 9:33 AM via web

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In "The Fall of the House of Usher", is there any significance to Roderick and Madeline being twins?

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Susan Woodward | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted February 27, 2008 at 10:39 AM (Answer #1)

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In the 19th century, there was a lot of specualtion about the supposed psychological link between twins, and Poe capitalizes on this in "The Fall of the House of Usher".  The fact that this is the case for Roderick and Madeline adds to the horror when Madeline is buried alive.  The "psychic link" between them is what creates the paranoia in Roderick and the eventual realization about what he did to his sister.  He seems to sense her fears and her anguish, and they are reflected in his behavior.  When she finally does appear outside the door, Roderick is certain that she is there before the door is even opened.  Again, this adds to the horror of the tale.  Having the two die nearly simultaneously reflects the link between twins.

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gbeatty | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted February 27, 2008 at 11:27 AM (Answer #2)

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Yes. There are several. First, traditionally twins are often joined or linked in some way. This makes it more likely that they would stay "in contact" after her death. Second, twins are a kind of double; if one is dead, the other is too. Third, this allows them to function as the male and female principle in a psyche, with the house being the larger psyche. That way, their connection is like a link to the subconscious…and maybe madness.

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