Thursday, 24 January 2008

The Fall of the House of Usher

Title: The Fall of the House of Usher

Author: Edgar Allan Poe

Number of pages: 20

Started: 24 January 2008

Finished: 24 January 2008

Opening words:

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. I know not how it was--but, with the first glimpse of the building, a sense of insufferable gloom pervaded my spirit. I say insufferable; for the feeling was unrelieved by any of that half-pleasureable, because poetic, sentiment, with which the mind usually receives even the sternest natural images of the desolate or terrible.

I looked upon the scene before me--upon the mere house, and the simple landscape features of the domain--upon the bleak walls--upon the vacant eye-like windows--upon a few rank sedges--and upon a few white trunks of decayed trees--with an utter depression of soul which I can compare to no earthly sensation more properly than to the after-dream of the reveller upon opium--the bitter lapse into everyday life--the hideous dropping off of the veil. There was an iciness, a sinking, a sickening of the heart--an unredeemed dreariness of thought which no goading of the imagination could torture into aught of the sublime. What was it--I paused to think--what was it that so unnerved me in the contemplation of the House of Usher? It was a mystery all insoluble; nor could I grapple with the shadowy fancies that crowded upon me as I pondered.

Plot summary:
An unnamed protagonist (the Narrator) is summoned to the remote mansion of his boyhood friend, Roderick Usher. Filled with a sense of dread by the sight of the house itself, the Narrator reunites with his old companion, who is suffering from a strange mental illness and whose sister Madeline is near death due to a mysterious disease. The Narrator provides company to Usher while he paints and plays guitar, spending all his days inside, avoiding the sunlight and obsessing over the sentience of the non-living. When Madeline dies, Usher decides to bury her temporarily in one of his house's large vaults. A few days later, however, she emerges from her provisional tomb, killing her brother while the Narrator flees for his life. The House of Usher splits apart and collapses, wiping away the last remnants of the ancient family.

Summary taken from Gradesaver

What I thought:
I think a lot of this was lost one me. I found the writing style and language a bit difficult to get into. Sinister though in the bits I kept up with!

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