What idea about the relationship between art and life is supported by the elements of this story?  

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When asking about the relationship between art and reality in "The Fall of the House of Usher," one must look to the central artist figure in the story, Roderick Usher. Roderick is fearful and mad, but he is also intensely creative, painting and writing about his obsessions.

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When asking about the relationship between art and reality in "The Fall of the House of Usher," one must look to the central artist figure in the story, Roderick Usher. Roderick is fearful and mad, but he is also intensely creative, painting and writing about his obsessions.

The fact that Roderick is both an artist and insane says a lot about the line between insanity and the artistic imagination. Imagination can feed off the environment, creating things that may or may not be there. The narrator himself brings this up when the gloomy atmosphere of the house overcomes him:

What was it—I paused to think—what was it that so unnerved me in the contemplation of the House of Usher? It was a mystery all insoluble; nor could I grapple with the shadowy fancies that crowded upon me as I pondered. I was forced to fall back upon the unsatisfactory conclusion, that while, beyond doubt, there are combinations of very simple natural objects which have the power of thus affecting us, still the analysis of this power lies among considerations beyond our depth.

The house may seem normal, but something about it unnerves the narrator. If it frightens the narrator, one can only imagine the effect upon the sensitive Roderick as he looks for artistic inspiration.

Then there is the prophetic aspect of Roderick's art. Much of what occurs in Roderick's art comes to pass in real life: for example, he sings of the fall of the house of Usher, which comes to pass by the end of the story. He paints tombs before his twin sister is buried alive in the family vault. He seems to know Madeline will come for him from the dead, even before it happens. This might suggest that the boundary between art and life is not altogether impermeable, that art can indeed influence reality.

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