Figures of speech in The Fall of the House of Ushe Essay

This essay has a total of 659 words and 4 pages.


Figures of speech in The Fall of the House of Usher







Edgar Allen Poe’s short story, “The Fall of the House of Usher”, sets a tone that is dark,
gloomy, and threatening. His inclusion of highly descriptive words and various forms of
figurative language enhance the story’s evil nature, giving the house and its inhabitants
eerie and “supernatural” qualities. Poe’s effective use of personification, symbolism,
foreshadowing, and doubling create a morbid tale leading to, and ultimately causing, the
fall of (the house of) Usher.

Poe’s use of personification, the act of giving human characteristics to nonhuman things,
assigns the house of Usher a powerful and evil presence. In the first paragraph of the
story, the narrator describes the house as having “vacant eye-like windows”. He uses this
description twice: first to show that the house has seen everything that has led to the
fall of Usher, and again to emphasize the unidentified deception of the house. The
narrator also describes his negative reaction to the house as a “hideous dropping off of
the veil”. This statement describes what the house has revealed to the narrator, a
disgusting and disappointing appearance.

Poe also uses symbolism to compare the deterioration of the house to the fall of the Usher
dynasty. In Roderick’s poem, “The Haunted Palace”, he describes the history of the house
as it began as a strong and “radiant palace”, which over time became a decrepit,
disease-ridden cage. The radiant palace represents the qualities of the Usher family,
prosperous and resilient. Its later state, a condemned structure, represents the
malevolence that has weakened the name “Usher”. In stanza III, the “luminous windows saw
spirits moving musically”, the same two windows who, in stanza VI, become “red-litten
windows, seeing vast forms that move fantastically to a discordant melody”. This
weakening of the state of the house exemplifies the weakening of the Usher family, as
there are only two members left, both of which are ill.

Poe’s use of foreshadowing, the act of providing hints of future actions, in “The Fall of
the House of Usher” foretells the “death” of Madeline Usher, along with her grandiose
return. “She succumbed (as her brother told me at night with inexpressible agitation) to
the prostrating power of the destroyer”. The "destroyer" here is Roderick Usher, referring
to the end of the story, when he buries his sister alive. Poe uses foreshadowing again
when Roderick “stated his intention of preserving her corpse for a fortnight, in one of
the numerous vaults within the main walls of the building”. By “preserving” Madeline’s
corpse, Roderick leads the audience, as well as the narrator, to believe that she is still
alive, thus giving her the ability to “rise from the dead”.
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