The Fall of The House of Usher is an eerie, imaginative story. The reader is captured by the twisted reality. Many things in the story are unclear to the reader; but no less interesting. For instance, even the conclusion of the story lends it self to argument. Did the house of Usher truly “fall”? Or, is this event simply symbolism? In either case, it makes a dramatic conclusion. Also dramatic is the development of the actual house. It seems to take on a life of its own. The house is painted with mystery. The narrator himself comments on the discerning properties of the aged house; “What was it, I paused to think, what was it that so unnerved me in the contemplation of the house of Usher” (54)? The house is further developed in the narrator’s references to the house. “…In this mansion of gloom” (55). Even the surroundings serve the purpose. The narrator describes the landscape surrounding as having, “… an atmosphere which had no affinity with the air of heaven, but which had reeked up from the decayed trees, and the gray wall, and the silent tarn a pestilent and mystic vapor, dull, sluggish, faintly discernible, and leaden hued” (55). This fantastic imagery sets the mood of the twisted events. Roderick Usher complements the forbidding surroundings terrifically. His temperament is declining and he seems incessantly agitated and nervous. And, as it turns out, Roderick’s fears are valid. For soon enough, before his weakening eyes, stands the Lady Madeline of Usher. This shocking twist in the story is developed through the book that the narrator is reading. The last line that he reads is, “Madman! I tell you that she now stands without the door” (66)! Without suspecting such an event, the reader soon finds Lady Madeline actually standing at the door. She is described as having, “…blood on her white robes, and the evidence of some bitter struggle upon every portion of her emaciated frame” (66). This line not only induces terror but invites debate. Upon seeing the woman the reader has to consider the cause of her death.
Essay on John Milton’s Paradise Lost and the War in Heaven
Paradise Lost and the War in Heaven
From the beginning of book 1 the war in heaven seems more than a simple, finished event. In reality, we have the authorized formal side presented: the war was ambitious, impious, proud, vain, and resulting in ruin. Satan’s first speech implies that there was another side-even after we have partly discounted the personal tones of the defeated leader who speaks of the good old lost cause, “hazard in the Glorious Enterprise.” That too is a formal side, presented by the losing actor in the drama. Then Satan goes on, to reveal, before he can pull himself together in defiance, something more:
Into what Pit thou seest
From what highth fal’n, so much the stronger provd
He with his thunder: and then who knew
The force of these dire Arms? (I, 91, ff)
A little later the surprise has been bolstered with a kind of indignation:
But still his strength conceal’d
Which tempted our attempt, and wrought our fall. (I, 641 f.)
We soon learn that we cannot get answers in hell, but we begin to see certain questions, and the possibility that their answers may appear when we see the actual dramatic presentation of the rebellion. For one thing, Satan’s “innumerable force” receives a definite tally later- it is only one third of the angels. And this fact will look different when we learn that God opposes the enemy force with an equal number only, and then puts a fixed limit on the individual strength of the contestants, and then sends only the Son against the rebels, and with His strength limited too. Satan puts so much concentration on having shaken the throne of god, against “His utmost power”-“Who from the terrour of this Arm so late/…
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…s; and then the gigantic niceness of the detail that pictures the mountains, pulled up by the tops, coming bottom side up toward them. In between we are forced to look away, to separate ourselves from the action, and see it as a spectator, not as a participator. In the grand finale of physical ridicule the rebels are again left exposed to laughter by the interrupted point of view. Never do they appear so ridiculous, not even as a timorous flock, as when they are caught isolated between the before and the behind.
This is to be understood metaphorically, as the climax of their physical humiliation. It does not last, any more than their later mass metamorphosis into serpents, with which this is parallel. But it is a punishment, on the material level, for the material nature of their sin. If they regain their form in hell, that is because they regain free will.