You are on page 1of 3

Peters 1 Emmah Peters Breid Mckillkenny Literature and Composition: Prose Fiction: 1120BB September 24th 2011 Foreshadowing

the Fall Edgar Allen Poe's Fall of the House of Usher is a short story rife with imagery. The opening of the short story is what would be defined as an 'atmospheric' opening, and sets the tone for the remainder of the story. As one reads the first line and on through the first paragraph and no hint of normalcy appears, it is apparent that a sense of doom hangs over the melancholy house of Usher (par. 1). This sense of doom continues to permeate the story and one has a sense that calamity and catastrophe are not far behind. The first line in fact, indicates the tone that will be used until the very end, DURING the whole of a dull, dark, and soundless day in the autumn of the year, when the clouds hung oppressively low in the heavens (par 1). The atmosphere has already been established as something of a heavy entity weighing down the narrator. As Poe prods his narrator ever closer to the house of Usher itself, the narrator shares his own sense of doom and gloom. but, with the first glimpse of the building, a sense of insufferable gloom pervaded my spirit (par 1). By immediately noting the weather, setting the atmosphere outside of the house itself, and personifying the house as a dreary entity, Poe has established a trend. All within the first paragraph the conclusion of the story, although not altogether clear, is known to be catastrophic. The physical house also lends much to the story. Although the story itself is of the slow decay of the family of Usher the house is a very important aspect of the story. The house itself is personified and almost becomes another character heavy with oppression, weight, and a great weariness.

Peters 2 upon the mere house, and the simple landscape features of the domain - upon the bleak walls - upon the vacant eye-like windows - upon a few rank sedges - and upon a few white trunks of decayed trees - with an utter depression of soul which I can compare to no earthly sensation more properly than to the after-dream of the reveller upon opium - the bitter lapse into everyday life the hideous dropping off of the veil. (par 1) There is an immediate dreary feeling upon reading this passage the windows in the bricks and mortar of the house itself have begun to stare intently at the narrator, the 'friend' of Usher as he approaches the house. The dropping off of the veil is also a reference to the Bible and the book of Revelations. The dropping of the veil refers to the time when the apocalypse will commence brought on by and in the time of, God's choosing. It can be inferred that the apocalypse, of the House of Usher in the very least, is imminent. The dropping of the veil can also be referred to as something similar to shattering, losing, or being robbed of ones rose-coloured glasses. The veil previously shielded the great house of Usher, it has now however been ripped away and as the family decays so does the house. The characters themselves are also a tool Poe uses to foreshadow later events. Usher himself is emaciated and seems not quite human, at least in showing and sharing emotions. He is described as a cadaver. ...greeted me with a vivacious warmth which had much in it, I at first thought, of an overdone cordiality - of the constrained effort of the ennuy ; man of the world... A cadaverousness of complexion ; an eye large, liquid, and luminous beyond comparison ; lips somewhat thin and very pallid, but of a surpassingly beautiful curve. (par 7). Usher's friend notes how different he looks, not at all like the boy of childhood, he has wasted away. Usher is likened to being on copious amounts of opium and this is to help account for his behaviours however he does change moods erratically signalling a mental disorder. His sister is also described as ghostly, leading the reader to believe as she floats quickly through the story and then back out that she is not long for this earth.

Peters 1 To further foreshadow Usher speaks of himself dying. Although the reader is inclined to believe throughout the entire story up to this point that something awful is going to happen now the knowledge is definite. Usher makes a claim that foreshadows his own death later on in the story. 'I have, indeed, no abhorrence of danger, except in its absolute effect - in terror. In this unnerved - in this pitiable condition I feel that the period will sooner or later arrive when I must abandon life and reason together, in some struggle with the grim phantasm, FEAR.' (par 10). Usher is terrified of the notion of being terrified and this only makes him more susceptible to the emotion itself. Poe cleverly weaves Usher's death into the plot only moments after we have met him. Poe masterfully crafts the entire story. Up until the conclusion itself it foreshadows the deaths of both Roderick Usher and his sister and the subsequent collapse of the once great house itself. Roderick Usher composed a song entitled The Haunted Place, which in turn reveals later events. And travellers now within that valley, Through the red-litten windows, see Vast forms that move fantastically To a discordant melody ; While, like a rapid ghastly river, Through the pale door, A hideous throng rush out forever, And laugh - but smile no more. (stanza 6) The red-litten windows are like the eyes of hell, and the rapid ghastly river the river styx which is the passageway of the dead. Poe's Fall of the House of Usher is all about atmosphere. It is used to tease, and tattle of the end of the story. From start to finish the sense that the axe is waiting to fall is unshakeable and is transmitted though Poe's clever description of weather, the bricks and mortar of the house of Usher, and the manner in which the character are described. Calamity and catastrophe seem from the beginning the natural conclusion.

Related Interests