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Edgar Allan Poe


Edgar Allan Poe s Fall of the House of Usher Guided Story Notes Cobb 2011 – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poes Fall of the House of Usher
  • Guided Story Notes
  • Cobb 2011

Edgar (Allan) Poe (c. 1809-1849)
  • Personal History
  • abandoned by father as an infant mother died of
    tuberculosis when Poe was 3yrs old
  • Taken in by the Allans but did not get along
    with Mr. Allan Mrs. Allan died of tuberculosis,
    as well
  • 18yrs oldPoe is thrown out of college for
  • Formed a new family with his aunt, and young
    cousin, Virginia Clemm
  • Married Virginia (she was half his age13yrs
    old), but she died 2yrs later (seeing a pattern
  • Poe struggled to support his family with a
    series of literary magazine jobs, where he
    received scathing reviews
  • His life matched the Romantic ideal of the
    starving artist who suffered for the purity of
    his art

One of literatures most brilliant, but erratic,
His Literature Success horror, science
fiction, detective stories Themes madness,
untimely death, and obsession Common
Characters Deranged narrators, young beautiful
(dead) women, etc., all which mirrored his
personal life Careful use of language, creation
of a single, calculated effect, championed
rigorous structure
Poes Works Inspire Others
  • The Murders in the Rue Morgue laid the
    foundation for the modern detective story
  • Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was inspired to write his
    series of detective adventures, Sherlock Holmes

Poes Works Inspire Others (part two)
  • Russian novelist Feodor Dostoevsky explored the
    criminal mind as a result of Poes influence
  • Today, Stephen King accredits Poe with inspiring
    portions of his book (turned-into-movie) The
  • The Baltimore Ravens have three mascots Edgar,
    Allan and Poe

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The Fall of the House of Usher
Point of View the vantage point from which the
writer tells a story
  • (p. 276) the narrator (who we realize has no
    name) is a character who claims to provide an
    objective view, but whose rationality becomes
    suspect during the course of the tale
  • He says, I feel a creeping upon me, by slow yet
    certain degrees, the wild influences of his own
    Usher's fantastic yet impressive
  • How would the story change if we read it from
    Roderick Ushers point of view? What would you

The Fall of the House of Usher
Atmosphere the mood or feeling created in a
piece of writing
  • Poe uses words like dull, dark, soundless,
    autumn, oppressively, dreary, evening, gloom,
    unredeemed dreariness, shadowy fancies, ghastly
    tree stems, vacant and eyelike windows to
    demonstrate atmosphere
  • (p. 262, 280-281) a rotting mansion, mysterious
    illnesses, strange sounds at night, a person
    buried alive all to create a sense of dread and

The Fall of the House of Usher
Parody a work that makes fun of another work by
imitating some aspect of the writers style
  • The narrator reads the parody of Sir Ethelred to
  • (p. 276) Poe is parodying the excesses of
    romances popular tales of knights who undertake
    adventures, perform heroic deeds and eventually
    win a virtuous lady
  • How is Sir Ethelred not all a medieval knight
    should be?
  • He requires wine for courage and strength
  • He is intimidated by a stubborn hermit
  • He confronts the hermit only to escape the bad

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The Fall of the House of Usher
Symbol a concrete object, a person, a place or
an action that works on at least two levels it
functions as itself and suggests a wider meaning
  • Poe uses the following symbols in this story and
    other connections
  • The vacant, eye-like windows of the
    house---Rodericks lack of sensory feeling or his
    growing madness
  • The gloomy, decaying house---the condition of the
    family/Rodericks mind
  • Rodericks painting of a vault/tunnel---Madelines
  • The fissure, or crack, that runs through the
    middle of the house----the break in Rodericks
  • The frequent and violent alterations in the wind
    during the storm---the split in Rodericks psyche
  • Rodericks guitar---his inner turmoil or wild,
    creative energies

Roderick Usher (above) And The House of Usher
The Fall of the House of Usher
Doubling heroes and heroines are hard to
distinguish from one another and often have the
same physical and mental traits of Poe himself
  • There are two instances of doubling in this
  • Roderick?house
  • -local peasants use the name The House of Usher
    to mean both the family, and the mansion
  • -the house is mirrored in the lurid tarn (dark
    lake) outside the narrator gazes into it hoping
    to escape the oppressive effect of the house

Madeline and Roderick Usher
The Fall of the House of Usher
Doubling heroes and heroines are hard to
distinguish from one another and often have the
same physical and mental traits of Poe himself
  • Roderick?Madeline
  • -What descriptions does the narrator give of
    their shared appearances?
  • Doubling is common in Romantic literature and
    essential to Gothic fiction, where criminals
    resemble victims

After Reading.
  • What happens to
  • Madeline?
  • Roderick?
  • The house?
  • Where does the narrator go?
  • Reflections? Comments?

This plaque marks the approximate location where
Edgar Poe was born in Boston.
Edgar Allan Poe is buried in Baltimore, Maryland
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