Why does it matter so much that Madeline and Roderick are twins?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

There is something about twins that makes them seem even closer than siblings who were born at different times. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that twins were conceived and birthed simultaneously; perhaps it has to do with the fact that twins shared a womb and have been...

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

There is something about twins that makes them seem even closer than siblings who were born at different times. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that twins were conceived and birthed simultaneously; perhaps it has to do with the fact that twins shared a womb and have been together since before they were even conscious beings. Twins, thus, seem to "match" one another in a particularly unique kind of way; they are, in a very real sense, doubles. The idea of incest between any pair of siblings is abhorrent to us, but, for the reasons I have addressed, the idea of incest between twins seems, I think, somehow even more upsetting and grotesque. With the apparent death of his sister, Madeline, Roderick insists that his family line has died out as well, making it clear that he would have been expected to procreate with his twin sister. This makes for double the illness to pass on—we can see how the illness would multiply—and double the upset to the reader. There's a symmetry to the idea of these two matched halves that feels quite perverted by the knowledge that they were meant to continue the Usher line together.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

It matters that Madeline and Roderick are twins because of several reasons:

The assumption that they may have been conceived within a consanguineal line

The assumption that they "share the same inevitable fate"

The possibility that they will meet the same demise

They are reflections of each other

They are co-dependent and their melancholy is mutual

They are extensions of each other

 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team