The Fall of the House of Usher Questions and Answers
by Edgar Allan Poe

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Is duality considered a theme in the "Fall of the House of Usher" by Edgar Allan Poe?

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Duality, or the double, is a theme in a lot of Gothic literature, particularly that of the late 19th century. It borrows from ancient ideas about twins, often found in folk stories, such as the concept that identical twins have only one soul between them and thus one of them must be the "evil" one, although they are superficially the same. Gothic plays with the idea that appearance is not reality and that the mirror image of a thing might show flaws the original does not. Think of Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray, for example, or Stephenson's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Poe conveys duality, or the idea of a Gothic double, through the characters of twins Roderick and Madeline . Roderick is the twin who once presented a relatively normal face to the world but is beginning to decline physically, something which seems to suggest a moral decline underpinning the physical. Madeline, meanwhile, is Roderick's twisted mirror image, a woman with a disease so strange and unearthly that it has...

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