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The Fall of the House of Usher
Transcript of The Fall of the House of Usher
by Edgar Allan Poe
Setting and Mood
The description of the setting in Poe's short story largely contributes to it's overall mood.
The story begins on one "...dull, dark, and soundless day in the autumn of the year...."
The reader gets a sense of death and decay
The narrator (Roderick's childhood companion) describes "a sense of insufferable gloom [which] pervaded [his] spirit" as he approached the House of Usher.
The term "House of Usher" refers not only to the crumbling mansion but also to the remaining family members who live within.
Creating an Eerie Atmosphere in "The Fall of the House of Usher"
ATMOSPHERE: The emotional feelings inspired by a work. The term is borrowed from meteorology to describe the dominant mood of a selection as it is created by diction, dialogue, setting, and description. Often the opening scene in a play or novel establishes an atmosphere appropriate to the theme of the entire work.
Poe's "The Fall of the House of Usher" establishes an atmosphere of gloom and emotional decay.
Elements common in Gothic literature:
An atmosphere of gloom, terror, or mystery
An exotic and isolated setting , often a ruined mansion or castle
Events, often violent or macabre, that cannot be hidden or rationalized despite the efforts of the narrator
A disturbed or unnatural relation between the orders of things that are usually separate, such as life and death, good and evil, dream life and reality, or rationality and madness
Give some examples that qualify "The Fall of the House of Usher" as a Gothic tale.
"The Fall of the House of Usher" is a prime example of American Romanticism.
The romantic era was an artistic, literary, and intellectual movement that originated in Europe toward the end of the 18th century.
American romantics, especially Poe, were fascinated with death and the supernatural.
Edgar Allan Poe: An American Romantic
The first five to six paragraphs of "The Fall of the House of Usher" establish an atmosphere most typical in the American Gothic. While we listen to the first five minutes of audio, listen for the elements Poe uses to establish the eerie mood.