How does "The Fall of the House of Usher" relate to Poe's life?

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Edgar Allan Poe understood the social taboo against incest and the biological prohibition against inbreeding. These facts were likely a constant presence in his consciousness even as he fell in love with and married his very young first cousin, Virginia Clemm. "The Fall of the House of Usher "...

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Edgar Allan Poe understood the social taboo against incest and the biological prohibition against inbreeding. These facts were likely a constant presence in his consciousness even as he fell in love with and married his very young first cousin, Virginia Clemm. "The Fall of the House of Usher" expresses Poe's intellectual recognition that inbreeding ultimately destroys the very families it seeks to preserve; this is acknowledged early in the story when the narrator observes that—

the stem of the Usher race, all time-honored as it was, had put forth, at no period, any enduring branch; in other words, that the entire family lay in the direct line of descent

—as he contemplates the crumbling house of Usher, both in its literal and figurative sense.

Roderick Usher can be read as an alter-ego of Edgar Allan Poe. Both men are artists interested in painting, music, and literature, and both are uncomfortable and ultimately unsuccessful in venturing outside their families. Poe came to see Virginia as sister, cousin, and wife, and Roderick lives alone with his sister, Madeline.

Because Poe's parents and brother died and he was estranged from his sister, it is likely that Poe believed that the lineage of his family would end with him since he and Virginia did not have children, just as the Usher line ends with the deaths of Roderick and Madeline. It raises an interesting question, since the story was written eight years before Virginia Clemm's death, whether Poe and she made a conscious decision not to have children or whether infertility or abstinence was the cause of their childlessness.

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In a symbolic sense, the crumbling decay of the Usher home seems to represent the ever-crumbling home life suffered by the author. The unnamed narrator says of the house,

I looked upon the scene before me—upon the mere house, and the simple landscape features of the domain — upon the bleak walls—upon the vacant eye-like windows — upon a few rank sedges—and upon a few white trunks of decayed trees — with an utter depression of soul which I can compare to no earthly sensation more properly than to the after-dream of the reveller upon opium — the bitter lapse into every-day life — the hideous dropping off of the veil.

The house is in absolute decay and produces within the viewer a terrible sense of depression, hopelessness, and even confusion. This may bear some similarities to Poe's own life. Poe's father first abandoned his family, leaving Poe's mother all alone with three children. Then, by the time Poe was three, his mother died of tuberculosis while her very young son watched. After this, the Poe children were split up, and Edgar was sent to live with the family of his mother's good friend, Frances Allan; Poe loved Frances a great deal. However, she soon died of tuberculosis as well, leaving Poe alone with his foster father, a hard man who always thought Poe was an ungrateful burden. Poe's home life crumbled over and over again, and the crumbling of the literal house of the Ushers could be seen to symbolize this.

Further, the unnamed narrator of the story tells us "that the entire [Usher] family lay in the direct line of descent." In other words, then, the Usher family seems to have routinely practiced incest, and it is, perhaps for this reason that the Ushers suffer from such strange illnesses. Poe, in real life, married his cousin, Virginia, when she was only thirteen years old. He even referred to her as "sissy" as often as he referred to her as "wifey," appearing to combine several female roles into one and ascribing them all to Virginia. By all accounts, their relationship was loving, but she was a child and his relative, and this is quite troubling as well.

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Edgar Allan Poe shares many similarities with the fictional Roderick Usher. First, both were prone to depression. Both also had a strong creative streak: Poe expressed his, as we know, through writing, and he was sometimes known as the "mad artist." Roderick expressed his "mad" creativity through music and painting. Both of these men expressed their creativity in dark, morbid, Gothic ways.

Some critics have argued that Roderick had an incestuous relationship with his twin sister Madeline in the Usher story. While not exactly the same, Poe did marry a close relative, his thirteen-year-old cousin, Virginia Clemm, and like Madeline, Virginia died young.

Roderick and Poe died young, and in a sense Poe's "house" or genealogical line ended too, for he never had any children that we know of.

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Poe certainly had a sad life. He was a typical struggling writer who even burned his furniture at one point to stay warm. He found success with the Raven but then lost his wife a year or so later. If Poe had the medical advancements of our day, i bet he would havebeen diagnnosed with paranoia and depression; both for which I think he self-medicated with alcohol.

The character of Usher is totallly paranoid as well as depressed and superstitious. Put all three of these mental illnesses in an old neglected and possessed house and the combination clearly leads to insanity.

Usher was lonely like Poe must have been. Usher's mind obsesses over circumstances he either cannot change or  is too despondent to address; possibly like Poe too.

In the end, a life like that isbound to crumble just like the house did.

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