One element that characterizes American Gothic literature is the intersection of the rational and the irrational. The story's narrator is the voice of reason; he comes to the House of Usher because his old acquaintance has indicated that he's having some difficulties, and the narrator believes it is his duty to help. The narrator realizes that Roderick looks very weak and sickly, and he soon recognizes that events within the house are hard to reconcile with rational behavior. One is the return of Madeline Usher from what seems to him to be death, since he helps to entomb her.
Another element of gothicism is the confrontation of guilt. Roderick Usher knows that the incest that his family has long engaged in is problematic, yet it is apparent that he and his sister Madeline are heir to the behavior. It is possible that he entombs her to bring to an end the family's curse of inbreeding over which he apparently feels immense guilt.
Madness is a theme often explored in gothic literature, and Roderick...
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