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Gothic Elements in “The Fall of the House of Usher” 杨满艳

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1 Gothic Elements in “The Fall of the House of Usher” 杨满艳200804001240

2 Edgar Allen Poe's autobiographical short story is the quintessential haunted house story featuring dreary scenes, mysterious sicknesses and untimely deaths. The vagueness of the story is the main part of its terror with its unidentifiable Gothic elements such as inclement weather and a barren landscape. It is not clear to the reader when or where the story takes place. Poe instead describes dark barren landscapes and inclement weather to set the mood. All the reader knows and understands is they are alone with the unnamed author and neither knows why.

3 一、 Gothic elements of items
1、Gothic fiction, sometimes referred to as Gothic horror, is a genre of literature that combines elements of both horror and romance. As a genre, it is generally believed to have been invented by the English author Horace Walpole, with his 1764 novel The Castle of Otranto. The effect of Gothic fiction feeds on a pleasing sort of terror, an extension of Romantic literary pleasures that were relatively new at the time of Walpole's novel. Melodrama and parody (including self-parody) were other long-standing features of the Gothic initiated by Walpole.

4 2、Prominent features of Gothic fiction include terror (both psychological and physical), mystery, the supernatural, ghosts, haunted houses and Gothic architecture, castles, darkness, death, decay, doubles, madness, secrets, and hereditary curses. 3、The stock characters of Gothic fiction include tyrants, villains, bandits, maniacs, Byronic heroes, persecuted maidens, femmes fatales, monks, nuns, madwomen, magicians, vampires, werewolves, monsters, demons, dragons, angels, fallen angels, revenants, ghosts, perambulating skeletons, the Wandering Jew and the Devil himself.

5 一、Gothic elements of environment
At the beginning of the story, the author set a melancholy tone by descriping gloomy scenery. Such as in para 1: During the whole of a dull, dark, and soundless day in the autumn of the year, when the clouds hung oppressively low in the heavens, I had been passing alone, on horseback, through a singularly dreary tract of country; and at length found myself, as the shades of the evening drew on, within view of the melancholy House of Usher.

6 二、 Gothic elements of architecture
1、Gothic literature is intimately associated with the Gothic Revival architecture. In para 4: And it might have been for this reason only, that, when I again uplifted my eyes to the house itself, from its image in the pool, there grew in my mind a strange fancy --a fancy so ridiculous, indeed, that I but mention it to show the vivid force of the sensations which oppressed me. I had so worked upon my imagination as really to believe that about the whole mansion and domain there hung an atmosphere peculiar to themselves and their immediate vicinity-an atmosphere which had no affinity with the air of heaven, but which had reeked up from the decayed trees, and the gray wall, and the silent tarn --a pestilent and mystic vapour, dull, sluggish, faintly discernible, and leaden-hued.

7 2、The house is gloomy and mysterious
2、The house is gloomy and mysterious. The narrator observes that the house seems to have absorbed an evil and diseased atmosphere from the decaying trees and murky ponds around it. He notes that although the house is decaying in places—individual stones are disintegrating, for example—the structure itself is fairly solid. There is only a small crack from the roof to the ground in the front of the building. He has come to the house because his friend Roderick sent him a letter earnestly requesting his company. Roderick wrote that he was feeling physically and emotionally ill, so the narrator is rushing to his assistance. The narrator mentions that the Usher family, though an ancient clan, has never flourished. Only one member of the Usher family has survived from generation to generation, thereby forming a direct line of descent without any outside branches. The Usher family has become so identified with its estate that the peasantry confuses the inhabitants with their home.

8 3、The narrator finds the inside of the house just as spooky as the outside. He makes his way through the long passages to the room where Roderick is waiting. In para 6: Much that I encountered on the way contributed, I know not how, to heighten the vague sentiments of which I have already spoken. While the objects around me --while the carvings of the ceilings, the sombre tapestries of the walls, the ebon blackness of the floors, and the phantasmagoric armorial trophies which rattled as I strode. Characters cannot move and act freely in the house because of its structure, so it assumes a monstrous character of its own—the Gothic mastermind that controls the fate of its inhabitants. Poe, creates confusion between the living things and inanimate objects by doubling the physical house of Usher with the genetic family line of the Usher family, which he refers to as the house of Usher.

9 三、Gothic elements of people
1、Roderick Usher shows his sanity slipping when he tells the narrator he dreads the future struggle with the fatal demon of fear. The unnamed narrator is shocked to see Roderick Usher has a striking resemblance to his sister Madeline, Poe's late wife. Poe refers to his late wife's eventual death when he mentions Roderick's complexion as the mockery of a faint blush, and gives a sense of foreboding to the story as it leads to the end when Madeline's return from the grave is found as an unexplained mystery.

10 2、Madeline, Roderick’s sister, is buried before she has actually died because her similarity to Roderick is like a coffin that holds her identity. Madeline also suffers from problems typical for women in nineteenth--century literature. She invests all of her identity in her body, whereas Roderick possesses the powers of intellect. In spite of this disadvantage, Madeline possesses the power in the story, almost superhuman at times, as when she breaks out of her tomb. She thus counteracts Roderick’s weak, nervous, and immobile disposition. She completes this attack when she kills him at the end of the story.

11 四、Gothic elements of the poem
“The Haunted Palace” and “Mad Trist” .Poe composed them himself and then fictitiously attributed them to other sources. Both poems parallel and thus predict the plot line of “The Fall of the House of Usher.” “Usher” refers not only to the mansion and the family, but also to the act of crossing a -threshold that brings the narrator into the perverse world of Roderick and Madeline. Roderick’s letter ushers the narrator into a world he does not know, and the presence of this outsider might be the factor that destroys the house.

12 Thank you!

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