The Fall of the House of Usher Psychological Criticism Psychological criticism is the school of literary criticism that focuses on the psychological issues affecting the characters behavior. Throughout this piece Poe uses setting, mood, characterization, conflict, and symbols in order to portray the underlying meaning; Physical disintegration of the House of Usher which parallels the condition of its inhabitants. Poe uses setting and mood in order to foreshadow the ultimate disintegration of the family manor.
The narrator notices “a barely perceptible fissure” running down the front of the building. The detailed description highlights the stories theme and creates a mood of fear. When discussing use of characterization one must consider Roderick Usher, the central character of Poe’s gothic tale. Poe uses direct and indirect characterization techniques in order to effectively convey his point. Usher’s anxiety is revealed through descriptions of his odd, disheveled appearance and mannerisms along with his rapid mood swings.
The author describes the tone as “overdone cordiality” and by “sullen quality”. Also, when discussing the psychological criticism one must consider how Poe’s approach might lead the readers to see him as a hypochondriac. In addition to the given appearances of characterization there are numerous other descriptions that heighten impression of instability. “The Fall of the House of Usher” has a copious amount of metaphors and symbols. The narrator perceives the mansion as human like with its “vacant and eye-like windows”.
This specific metaphor is extended throughout the entire story, becoming more and more sinister in its deep implications. When describing the house, it serves as almost a symbolic prison for Usher and his sister Madeline. Poe uses several descriptive words in his portrayal of the house. The reader’s first impression of the house comes from a direct observation from the narrator. This narrator states, “… with the first glimpse of the building, a sense of insufferable gloom pervaded my spirit. As the narrator continues to describe the house he uses several similarly dismal adjectives. The gloom experienced by the narrator is not limited to merely the house itself. The vegetation, which surrounds the area, is described as “a few rank sedges and … a few white trunks of decayed trees. ” He emphasizes these facets of the house and its environs by restating the descriptions reflected in a “black and lurid tarn.
While he claims that the house appears structurally sound, he takes time to comment upon “the crumbling condition of the individual stones. ” He also emphasizes the long history of the house by stating that its features recall an “excessive antiquity. ” It is obvious therefore that Poe means for the building and the family to reflect one another. His use of parallel descriptions of the house and family, the mood that both convey and the intertwined fate of both lead the reader to the inescapable conclusion that the house and the Ushers are one.