What evidence can you give me to support the claim that Roderick and Madeline are not vampires?

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mickey2bailey eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Roderick and Madeline are not vampires.  Roderick’s sister, Madeline, has be stricken with a mysterious sickness—perhaps catalepsy, a trancelike state characterized especially by the loss of voluntary motion—that the doctors cannot reverse. Madeline soon dies, and Roderick decides to bury her temporarily in the tombs below the house. "He wants to keep her in the house because he fears that the doctors might dig up her body for scientific examination, since her disease was so strange to them." The narrator helps Roderick put the body in the tomb, and he notes that Madeline has rosy cheeks, as some do after death. Usually the face is pale and there is no sign of life on the complexion. Both Roderick and Madeline's whole physical being is withering away which is the sign of death.  Since they are twins and basically can't function without each other, they must die together. 

renelane eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It is easy to see how it might seem they are vampires. The setting of an old, creepy house, and strange seclusive inhabitants live inside. The Usher family has survived many generations in that setting. Yet, a few details point to the idea that they are not in actuality, vampires. First, and most obvious, Roderick was a school chum with the narrator of the story who comes to visit. Clearly he was able to leave the ouse in daylight hours at some point, and according to vampire lore, daylight is deadly to vampires. Madeline dies, as well, and vampires are supposedly immortal. True, it appears she becomes the undead, but this only gives evidence of some supernatural activity, as does the house destructing in such an unrealistic manner.

gbeatty eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A good question. I'd say no, they aren't vampires, but that rather they are some undefined sort of undead creature. The main reason I'd say they aren't vampires is the story's ending. Poe's narrator speaks of a spell, and Roderick is terrified of Madeline; why would he be so scared if they are both vampires? Also, there's nothing in vampire lore that would cause the house to collapse as it does. Therefore, I'd say they are unnaturally bound across the limits of death, with linked fates, but not vampires in the strict sense.

boringbore | Student

from what my professor told me, they are. madeline is already a vampire and roderick is afraid because he knows that his time is coming soon for when he is going to change. he invited his friend over so that he can suck his blood, but in the end he doesnt have the heart. poe didnt use the mainstream description of a vampire, i guess because there really isnt a correct version because they arent real.

lituraturekt | Student

One more thing to add...there is a quote in this story that says, "If ever mortal painted an idea, that mortal was Roderick Usher." If you read the quote it calls Roderick a mortal, just thought I'd point that out.

lituraturekt | Student

I tend to not beleive it isn't about vampirism because Madeline does die from an unknown disease she has been stricken with for some time. Vampires don't die in the first place, with the exception of when they first get bitten, from what I understand. She does come back, but couldn't that mean she's some other type of undead type? I also agree with Renelane, if they did attend school together how did Roderick get there? Unless they attended a night gradeschool together it is very unlikely. The theory isn't disproven, but is unlikely.

lituraturekt | Student

Your question is like trying to prove or disprove a higher power, you just can't. The Fall of the House of Usher has many ways of being viewed upon and one of them is a vampire story. BUT the others include the house of Usher is his mind, incest (it does explain the illness of both...and I guess it could be an incest "love story"), also it could be viewed as what the story is said to be (probably not, Poe didn't do that a whole lot...) So to answer your question I cannot prove the story is not about vampirism, but I do challenge you to stop viewing this as a vampire story just because you're a fan of Twilight and look at the other options. Liturature can be seen in different lights and you shouldn't be closed-minded.

frankielover6 | Student

no they are not they are love ones that happened to be twins.

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The Fall of the House of Usher

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