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Romantic Era and Fall of the House of Usher

The Fall of the House of Usher recounts the story of Roderick and Madeline Usher. Brother and sister both suffer from mental illness brought on by intermarriage in the family. As the story opens, Madeline is deteriorating rapidly which depresses Roderick beyond his normal apathetic existence produced by his mere living in the family home.  He is convinced that the Usher mansion directs his behavior and his eventual destiny. Edgar Allen Poe uses the story of the Usher family to symbolize the fall of the romantic era in society.

Romantic Era and Fall of the House of Usher

The romantic era is symbolized in the detail of the house. Poe begins his description, “of excessive antiquity. The discoloration of ages had been great…No portion of the masonry had fallen; and there appeared to be a wild inconsistency between its still perfect adaptation of parts and the crumbling condition of the individual stones… a barely perceptible fissure, which extended from the roof to the building in front, made its way down the wall in a zigzag direction, until it became lost in the sullen waters of the tarn”. With the house falling apart, Poe is stating that the romantic era that encompasses society is also falling apart. This imaginary landscape mirrors human grief and the house weeps for the loss of innocence and romance.

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