Text Selection

Edgar Allan Poe’s short story The fall of the House of Usher.

In this story our unnamed narrator goes to aid an ill friend, Roderick, at his house. The house is ill kept and vacant except for his friend and his sister. The two of them both suffer from some strange but different illness. The sister dies and is buried in a tomb below the house. The friend quickly spirals into a distressed state that culminates in his death when the falsely dead sister creeps into the room of the narrator and Roderick and the two siblings die together. The narrator is aghast at witnessing this and runs from the house.

This story in American Literature is known to be a prominent example of a Gothic tale. The story embodies key elements identified with Gothic Literature. These being a twisting of nature imagery and natural spaces, especially one’s associated with Transcendentalism. The story also covers the themes of isolation and despair. I read this story in my American Literature (207) course and was intrigued by the way the story manages a narrative path in an ambiguous and surreal style. I was also interested in the popular romance that people have with this sub-genre of literature and why it is so fascinating to readers and critics.

Poe is an iconic writer of poetry and short stories. I would like to explore why this genre has such a fascination with readers and how such a sub-genre style manifested during the transcendentalism movement. I think my research would help me understand Poe’s influences from the times he lived in to his continuation of a previous literary dialogue. Poe’s popularity will aid me in having a large number of resources to draw from. The difficulty will be having to digest and pinpoint the best selections to use.


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