Appraisal of “The Fall of the House of Usher”

Before I begin my appraisal of Master Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher,” I must interrupt myself to mention a rather disturbing situation that is becoming quite commonplace.

Edgar Allan Poe’s wife, Virginia Clemm Poe, who passed on quite a few years ago, has been seen (and well documented through images, as well as moving photographic pictures – oh, the wonders of science?!) all over town. Mr. Poe has also been seen in pursuit of her, following her about in quite a state, as well as cavorting with her in a very unseemly manner – in public no less!

If you have any thoughts or speculation which might illuminate the mystery behind this matter, please contact me at 617-221-7328, or write me at editor@unionstylus.com.

Now! On to more important matters, namely my thoughts regarding Master Poe’s, “The Fall of the House of Usher.”

If Mr. Poe’s latest work has demonstrated anything, it is that his hysterics know no bounds! In “The Fall of the House of Usher,” our unnamed protagonist is beckoned to the house of his friend, Roderick Usher. The aforementioned Roderick has, as it seems, been befallen by yet another one of Mr. Poe’s trademark unidentified illnesses.

Roderick shares his sinister and unkempt house with Madeline, his spinster twin sister. One is only left to wonder why these two siblings have not married, and choose to cohabitate… Personally, I find the nature of their relationship disconcerting.

Medically speaking, Madeline herself suffers from yet another unspecified illness that causes her to collapse into death-like comas. It is during one of these comas that Roderick convinces his friend that Madeline’s soul has finally departed this earth to join our Dear Lord in heaven. Roderick then insists that his friend aid him with burying her in the family crypt – where her body shall remain for two weeks, until which time she will be moved to her final resting place. Oddly enough, this family crypt is situated on the floor directly beneath our hero’s bedchamber.

With the passing of Madeline and the arrival of a tempestuous storm, Roderick’s hysterics reach new heights, so that even our hero is unnerved by his ravings. In an attempt to calm Roderick, his good friend reads him a tale of a knight’s valiant conquest over a dragon, and the house appears to reenact the events of the story: the clang of a fallen shield, the piercing shriek as the monster is slayed. It is this shriek that undoes Roderick, who admits that he knowingly buried his sister – alive. The door to the bedchamber suddenly bursts open and Madeline falls upon her brother in her final act of vengeance before the last of the Ushers die.

Readers, I am unsure what Master Poe means by this tale! He certainly demonstrates his lack of gallantry in his treatment of the weaker sex. But to write in such graphic detail about burying a sickly and infirmed young lady alive?! It chills me to the core of my soul to envision such an act. And, I pray that God will forgive me, that I allowed myself to wander into such dark and demented pastures…

Into the pastures of Poe’s mind – a mind unhinged.

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