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Shackelford, Lynne P. “Poe’s ‘The Fall of the House of Usher.’”  (Fall 1986):18-19.

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The narrator is on the outside of whatever eerie relationship the Ushers' share. He is also on the outside of the eerie goings-on inside the house of Usher. When Madeline passes by, for instance, she doesn’t even acknowledge the narrator’s presence. When Madeline returns alive from her tomb, she again disregards the narrator. The narrator ends up watching the tale as it unfolds before his eyes and through him the reader is able to follow the fall of the House of Usher.

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The complete first appearance of Lady Madeleine (Gwen Watford), having been spoken of by her frightened brother in the opening scene, in the 1949 British production of the Edgar Allan Poe story, The Fall Of The House Of Usher, directed, produced and photographed by Ivan Barnett.

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“…as the shades of the evening drew on, within view of the melancholy House of Usher, I know not how it was – but, with the first glimpse of the building, a sense of insufferable gloom pervaded my spirit.”

[S:1 - TGA, 1840] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Tales - The Fall of the House of Usher (Text-04)


According to Webster’s Dictionary, fear is “afeeling of agitation and anxiety caused by the presence or imminence ofdanger.” Fear can be beneficial by restraining us from actions that lead todanger. Edgar Allan Poe's "The Fall of the House of Usher" revolvesaround fear, and portrays the importance of facing and overcoming our fears."I feel that I must inevitably abandon life and reason together in mystruggles with some fatal demon of fear." Roderick is overwhelmed by thepresence of fear, and this constant presence caused his illness. His failure toovercome his fears makes him sick, which in terms kills him.Congratulations, you have just escaped from Madeline'sclutches
and you have earned the worthy honor to sign the hidden
House of Usher's .The different forms of art introduced in the storyreflect the Ushers themselves along with their inseparable relationship withthe house. A wise-man once said that“behavior is taught.” Societies exist only because one can perceive whatis known as a society. In other words, humans are all combinations of theirpeers. One’s existence is a piece, added with many other pieces, the sum creatinga human. In “The Fall of the House of Usher," the house (house of Usher)crumbles indicating that neither, Roderick or Madeline, can live without theother.One aspect of Poe’s life that may have been very influential in "TheFall of the House of Usher" was his drinking habits (Wagenknecht 30). Likemany dimensions of Poe’s lifestyle, the severity of his drinking problemis often debated (30). It has been said that a single glass of wine wouldget Poe drunk and although this may not be exactly accurate, it can besaid that one drink would affect him visibly (30). Poe was raised in adrinking society and an inclination for alcohol also seems to have beenprevalent in his family (31). Although Poe was certainly a drinker, hedid not a revel in the bars or taverns (32). According to Edward Wagenknecht,author of , Poe "had neitherthe virtues nor the vices which flourish in the tavern atmosphere" (32).The immediate effect of such drinking habits was the endangerment to Poe’shealth, but it also "made him an easy target for his literary enemies throughoutthe 1840s" (Peeples 77). Thomas Dunn English, in his temperance novel,, portrays a dishonest drunk evidently basedon Poe (77).In the summer of 1838, Edgar Allan Poe left the city of New York, wherehe faced criticism and minimal recognition, and moved to Philadelphia,where he would soon gain profound success (Quinn 268). Just a year priorto this move, Poe married his cousin, Virginia Clemm, who accompanied himto Philadelphia (Wagenknecht 18). Little is known of Poe’s time in NewYork other than the fact that he faced severe poverty with total earningsamounting to under one hundred fifty dollars (Peeples 31). Therefore, sincePhiladelphia shared the prestige with New York as a publishing center,it offered Poe new publishing opportunities and opened the doors to success(Quinn 268). He found this success editing from 1839-1840 and then from 1841-1842 (Peeples74). During this time, Poe delivered lectures on American poetry, publishedthirty-six tales including "William Wilson," "The Masque of the Red Death,"and "The Murders in the Rue Morgue," and also released a collection ofstories in 1840 entitled (Peoples74). It was during this peak of Poe’s publishing career that he published"The Fall of the House of Usher." This tale relates to various aspectsof Poe’s life including his occupation as an editor, his battle with alcoholand drugs, his psychological and emotional well-being, and the impact ofdeath on his life and work.Poe’s work, including "The Fall of the House of Usher," was influencedby many experiences throughout his life and also by the culture in whichhe lived. His employment at and in the early 1840’s proved to be one of the most prosperoustimes of his publishing career, yet Poe faced many obstacles in his privatelife during this time including poverty and alcohol abuse. Although hisalleged alcohol and drug addictions are issues yet to be settled, theywere clearly an influence in his life and work. In addition to his habitsregarding alcohol and drugs, his psychological stability has also beencalled into question. The impact of death, which was prevalent throughouthis life, was tremendous. Regardless of the many struggles Poe encounter,he has emerged as one the greatest Romantic writers in American history.