What is Roderick Usher's appearance when he is first described in "The Fall Of The House Of Usher"?

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mperez-mugg21 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The narrator arrives on the premises expecting that Roderick will be ill given the letter that he previously received from him.  He says that the letter itself speaks to the nervous agitation that Roderick must be experiencing and expects that Roderick will not be in his right mind.  When the narrator finally makes contact with Roderick he is absolutely shocked by the changes that Roderick's appearance has undergone.  Roderick greets the narrator with such "vivacious" warmth that the narrator is taken aback, questioning the sincerity of the greeting.  However, upon looking more carefully at Roderick the narrator is reassured of the genuineness of his expression and settles down to take in Roderick's full appearance.  Upon examining Roderick's face, the narrator is shocked at the dramatic shift in the narrator's boyhood good looks, comparing Roderick to a wasting away corpse but still maintaining some of the natural appealing qualities which he once bore.  It is clear that Roderick was once a vivacious and attractive individual but now suffers from great anxiety and misery given his condition.  In fact, the narrator is so surprised by Roderick's current condition that he doubts the fact that it is the same person that he once knew.  Moreover, Roderick's actions add to the perplexing nature of Roderick's appearance.  The narrator describes Roderick's inconsistent behavior as being full of life at one moment and absolutely sullen the next.  This strange behavior reinforces previous characterizations of Roderick as anxiety-ridden and ill, which is a dramatic shift from his previous character.  

ms-mcgregor eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When the narrator first sees Usher, he is shocked at the changes that have changed in Usher's appearance. He says, "Surely a man had never before so terribly altered. . . " He was as pale as a corpse with large eyes that were very noticeable and hair that had not been groomed for a while. His hair had grown every which way and this, along with his "ghastly" complexion shocked the narrator. Usher also seemed very nervous and agitated. Although he had been prepared for the nervousness of Usher, the narrator was totally unprepared at how awful his boyhood friend now looked.

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The Fall of the House of Usher

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