The Use of the Doppelganger in "The Fall of the House of Usher" Essay

1542 WordsMay 15, 20137 Pages
The Use of the Doppelganger in "The Fall of the House of Usher" According to Edgar Allan Poe, “Words have no power to impress the mind without the exquisite horror of their reality.” In other words, when terror is incited in a person, it leaves a lasting impression. It was for this reason that the gothic style of literature was so popular during the 19th century; readers were fascinated with the emotions that they experienced while reading this style. As Poe stated, the emotional state of horror incited by his portrayal of reality caused people to realize how chaotic life can be. Identifiable characteristics, such as gothic architecture, lackluster landscape, inexplicable sickness, and split personalities helped portray this warped sense of reality to the reader. In “The Fall of the House of Usher” Poe uses the doppelganger, which literally means "double goer” to portray the two sides of a certain element in a story. The portrayal of the doppelganger in the work shows the reader that the literal House of Usher confines its main character, Roderick Usher, mentally and physically. Poe explores the mind of Roderick Usher and shows that one cannot exist in fragments; one can only exist as a whole self. The first use of the double in "The Fall of the House of Usher" is seen through the connection between the Usher family and the house they inhabit. During the time in which Poe lived, the expression "house of…" also implied family lineage as well as a physical dwelling. The tale connects the house and the family by personifying the old mansion. The narrator observes the House of Usher as having "vacant eye-like windows" (317). The mention of this contributes to the gloomy mystique of the mansion. This dim saturnine aura gives the reader a sense of uneasiness. Poe further builds upon this unease by describing how the narrator feels when he first views the

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