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What is noteworthy about the description of Usher’s house?"The Fall of the House of...

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vanillastardust | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 10, 2011 at 10:36 AM via web

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What is noteworthy about the description of Usher’s house?

"The Fall of the House of Usher" by Edgar Allan Poe

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted May 20, 2011 at 4:49 AM (Answer #1)

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Since Edgar Allan Poe insisted that his short stories had a single effect, the description of the house at the beginning of "The Fall of the House of Usher" is, indeed, noteworthy.  For one thing, it becomes apparent that the house is personified somewhat as the narrator describes the "vacant eyelike windows."  This personification of the windows is not unlike the description of Roderick Usher, who has a "luminousness of ...eye [that] had utterly gone out" and who also "stares about him."  Later in the story, the narrator also describes Roderick,

His eyes were bent fixedly before him, and throughout his whole countenance there reigned a stony rigidity.

Along with the description of the windows, there are other parallels between the Usher's house and the Usher family.  For instance, the macbre setting of the white trunks of decaying trees, the rotting mansion, and the bleak walls and interior gloom are synonymous with the Ushers, "the last of the ancient race" and their family tree that has no "enduring branch," as well as the white, deathlike appearance of Roderick Usher, not to mention his sister Madeline, who has become a cadaver. And, then, as Roderick deteriorates into madness and Madeline is resurrected to wreak destruction, the house, too, which has a great fissure, crumbles and falls itself, thus completing the parallels and the double entendre of the title "The Fall of the House of Usher."    

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