In "The Fall of the House of Usher," what does Roderick symbolize?

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clairewait eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When considering symbolism in Gothic Literature (especially Edgar Allan Poe) I think it is safe to say the following ideas are probably represented somewhere:

- darkness (physical, mental, emotional, moral)
- evil
- secrecy

Consider Roderick's characteristics:

- hypochondriac and disorder of heightened senses
- artistic
- keeps to himself
- generally kind but clearly hiding something

I think it would be safe to argue that he is symbolic of a family secret, an evil.  Most probably interpret it as incest.  He is the last of the Usher line, which means the secret dies with him.

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The Fall of the House of Usher

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