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The Fall of the House of Usher (Madness/Illness/Hypochondria)

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Micah Gaeddert

on 30 January 2013

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Transcript of The Fall of the House of Usher (Madness/Illness/Hypochondria)

Madness, Illness, and Hypochondria The Fall of the House of Usher Illness Madness is a key symbol in the story.

Characters become engulfed in their own state of mind as a result of the events in the story and history

Roderick seems to be trapped in his haunted, supernatural house, which contributes to his illness, as it plays with his mind.

He never ventures out into the world, but stays in a house full of his own fears. Roderick is hypersensitive, with which his senses are magnified. However, it seems as if his most serious illness has to do with his mental health.

He is tormented by his own fear, which ends up killing him.
"...and in her violent and now final death-agonies, bore him to the floor a corpse, and a victim to the terrors he had anticipated" (585-587).

Madeline suffers from catalepsy, in which she can become paralyzed or go into a coma
"A settled apathy, a gradual wasting away of the person, and frequent although transient affections of a partially cataleptical character were the unusual diagnosis" (214-216). Madness in the Final Scene The final scene may prove that Roderick is completely mad. Because of his psychological state, he may be unable to live without Madeline.

He knows that she has catalepsy, in which she slips into comas. He knows that she is alive when he buries her.

If he cannot live without her, and attempts to rush her death, then this may be an attempted suicide.

Roderick is crazy. "While I gazed, the fissure rapidly widened - there came a fierce breath of the whirlwind - the entire orb of the satellite burst at once upon my site - my brain reeled as I saw the mighty walls rushing asunder - there was a long tumultuous shouting sound like the voice of a thousand waters - and the deep and dank tarn at my feet closed sullenly and silently over the fragments of the 'House of Usher.'" There is something about the House of Usher Hypochondria Roderick Usher is a hypochondriac, because he believes that he has illnesses that are not backed up by any diagnosis or medical opinion.

Poe (the narrator) refers to Usher as a hypochondriac on three different occasions.

There can be a correlation between madness, illness, and hypochondria. Because Roderick is not mentally stable, it could lead to him believing he is seriously ill when in reality he is not.

"I could not help thinking of the wild ritual of this work, and of its probable influence upon the hypochondriac, when, one evening, having informed me abruptly that the lady Madeline was no more, he stated his intention of preserving her corpse for a fortnight, in one of the numerous vaults within the main walls of the building" (361-366). Development Throughout the Story Language "Sick" Feeling The language contributes to the sick feeling because diction sets a tone to increase an eerie feeling in the reader. When explaining the feelings and symptoms of one who is sick it begins to feel figuratively contagious.

The 'sick' feeling is a constant theme throughout the story and become more apparent towards the end of Poe’s short story.

Madeline’s sickness resulted in her death, which wasn’t technically a direct cause. Her sickness didn't kill her, as she was buried alive by Roderick “A settled apathy, a gradual wasting away of the person, and frequent although transient affections of a partially cataleptical character were the unusual diagnosis"(line 14). The House Not only were the characters sick but the house continued to have a sickly feeling as well.

Being sick eats away at the house and the characters, and only leads to their final collapse.

"I reined my horse to the precipitous brink of a black and lurid tarn that lay in unruffled lustre by the dwelling, and gazed down - but with a shudder even more thrilling than before - upon the remodeled and inverted images of the grey sedge, and the ghastly tree-stems, and the vacant and eye-like windows" (lines 28-32). The three themes are developed throughout the story.

The narrator came to the House of Usher because Roderick said he felt mentally and physically ill.

Little does he know that the events that will transpire will play with his mind and eventually end with the death of his childhood friend. Language
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