What is the symbolism of colors in Edgar Allan Poe's "The Fall of the House of Usher"?Does anyone have any idea of what I could say about the colors used in "The Fall of the House of...

What is the symbolism of colors in Edgar Allan Poe's "The Fall of the House of Usher"?

Does anyone have any idea of what I could say about the colors used in "The Fall of the House of Usher" and for what they represent?

*Symbolization of colors in Edgar Allan Poe's "The Fall of the House of Usher"

Thanks very much!

Asked on by sarumba

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sagesource | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

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The palette used in "The Fall of the House of Usher" is very restricted. Apart from an ominous red light, and the red blood on the clothes of Usher's sister at her final appearance, the text lingers on dead whites, greys, and blacks, all symbolic of a lack of life and health:

a few white trunks of decayed trees...

the ebon blackness of the floors...

Dark draperies hung upon the walls.

His countenance was, as usual, cadaverously wan...

the huge antique panels....ponderous and ebony jaws...

This dim palette compliments and reflects the mood and personality of Usher himself, whom the narrator says possessed

a mind from which darkness, as if an inherent positive quality, poured forth upon all objects of the moral and physical universe, in one unceasing radiation of gloom...

Usher's grim verses entitled "The Haunted Palace" reinforce this, telling of a kingdom that declined from color and light, "Banners yellow, glorious, golden..." "pearl and ruby glowing" into colorless gloom relieved only by crimson light, "Through the red-litten windows, see....Through the pale door...." In a final irony, the ultimately futile escape of Usher's sister from her premature burial is accompanied by the contrasting tale the protagonist is reading to Usher to cheer him up, full of gold and silver tones, and the final collapse of the house is announced when the blood-red moon breaks through the fissure in its fabric as it sinks into the lake.

Sources:

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