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Poe’s Fall of The House of Usher Essay: A Psychological Piece

The Fall of the House of Usher as a Psychological Piece

This essay examines “The Fall of the House of Usher” from the viewpoint that none of the events really happened — or if they did, were exaggerated by the fear felt by the characters. The essay proposes that the action took place in the mind of the narrator and discusses the dream imagery present in the story and how this supports this theory.

While discussing “The Fall of the House of Usher,” Thompson investigates the idea that the story is not really a truthful tale – that is, a re-telling of events that the narrator experienced – but is rather the result of a “mutual hysteria of the narrator and Roderick Usher.” Basically, he asserts that the narrator and Usher are both so filled with fear that they imagined the events, or else there is a logical explanation for the things that happened while the narrator stayed at the House of Usher.

Thompson’s first point reminds us that the narrator of this story attempts to rationalize many of the spooky things that he witnesses at the house. This is in contrast to the fact that Usher’s mind is obviously disintegrating throughout the tale. Thompson claims that Poe uses the “apparent” rationality of the narrator to “heighten the irrational.” By instilling in the reader a sense of coherence, the weirdness of the situation and the mental state of Usher are more noticeable. Also, Thompson mentions that an integral part of the tale is the “mechanism of fear itself,” which begins with Usher and spreads to the narrator. This feeling of fear, he claims, is what gives us the basis for reading this story as a psychological thriller rather than a series of events that actually happened. Thompson looks at p…

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…ndriac,” which might be how people of that time period referred to mental illness. Many people seemed to believe that Usher really suffered from mental illness rather than a physical ailment. And lastly, the possibility of incest between brother and sister, and other generations of Ushers, was discussed. This stemmed from the part of the story that talked about how the Usher family tree did not branch out much. Some people took this to mean that not many people were brought in from outside the family. I think this is very plausible, and is actually what I always thought was at the core of this story. I think that the two siblings are more than just brother and sister, and found this to be one of the more interesting discussions we had.

Works Cited

Thompson, G.R. “Explained Gothic,” Poe’s Fiction. University of Wisconsin Press, 1973. Pages 87-97.

The Universal Themes Found in The Crucible by Arthur Miller

A crucible has two definitions, one being a vessel in which metal is heated to a high temperature and melted for the purposes of casting, having been purified. An Alternative sense of the word may be as the focus of a baptism by fire, by which a metamorphosis in political, social, and cultural relations takes place, driven by agents of change. When a community presents a toxic environment which is seen to be flawed in major aspects of effective functionality, good may only triumph when certain individuals rise up against such a destructive system and refuse conformity in a dire attempt to reform the society for the better, despite the often tragic personal consequences. Thus the corruptness of a society can only be ameliorated by the personal sacrifice of such individuals who refuse conformity and choose to uphold their moral vision, despite the friction. This phenomenon is not only found in The Crucible, but it is universal; applicable to any culture during any era, and is a continually recurring theme in literature. It’s roots can be traced back to biblical stories, in which several of the first and most famous instances of this phenomenon can be seen in the crucifixion of Christ, in which Christ willingly died in order to change society and for the bettering of man kind, or in Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son despite the act’s complications. Other instances of this can be found in The Crucible with major characters such as Giles and John Proctor who act as the nonconformists, and it can also be seen in the case of Socrates, the ancient Greek philosopher and Mohamed Bouazizi, the man who instigated the Arab Spring. These instances will be closely analyzed for their parallels and distinct similarities in distinct rel…

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… them to acknowledge the unjust state of affairs that persists in the deteriorating city-state. Socrates believed it was better to die, than to live untrue to oneself, and live unable to practice philosophy, by asking people his questions. Thus, we can see Socrates was a nonconformist in Ancient Greek society, as he laid down his life in the hopes of saving his state, by opening the eyes of the jury to the corruptness and evils of society. Socrates also laid down the framework for a paradigm shift to occur in his city, as his acquired a formidable fan group, or following, of individuals, who, began to preach his philosophy and continue his Socratic method of questioning and teaching. Socrates philosophy is still influential and studied today, thus his ways of thinking about life, truth and knowledge, changed the way western society perceives the world.

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