Why would Edger Allen Poe's "The House of Usher" be considered a superior piece of literature? Please give me three reasons!  

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Edgar Allan Poe's "The Fall of the House of Usher" is a superior piece of literature for many reasons. Here are three:

  1. Aesthetically, it is a superior literary work.  Interestingly, the title is a double-entendre, for it denotes the mansion, once architecturally strong, aristocratic, aesthetic that now parallels the family of Usher in its decrepitude.  Because the once aristocratic, handsome Ushers have kept their bloodlines too thin, Roderick now suffers from mysterious illnesses and his sister Madeleine has a condition that "baffles the skill of the physicians."
  2. Poe's narrative is a masterpiece of Gothic literature.  A rotting mansion, mysterious illnesses, strange sounds at night, a person buried alive;  all these details create horror, an atmosphere of dread and menace.  Poe develops his mood in the very first paragraphs with the hissing s sounds and powerful sensory images. And, with all sorts of turns and twists to the plot, Poe builds the terror as Roderick's hearing becomes overly sensitive and he is tortured by the fear that his sister has not really died as he hears her at the door.  With preternatural energy, he unbolts the door, wrestles with her in her cataleptical state and in "death agonies," he and Madeleine fall dead as the house, too, crumbles to the ground.
  3. According to D. H. Lawrence,

Poe had a pretty bitter doom.  Doomed to seeth down his would in a great continuous convulsion of disintegration, and doomed to register the process.  And then doomed to be abused for it, when he had performed some of the bitterest tasks of human experience, that can be asked of a man.  Necessary tasks too.  For the human soul must suffer its own disintegration, consciously, if ever it is to survive.

As an anti-Romantic, Poe takes the reader to the dark side of humanity, a necessary trip, as Lawrence remarks, and a most worthy one, too.  His psychological narratives relate much of the human experience.

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