Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Creepy Classic: Edgar Allen Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher

This month’s creepy classic is Edgar Allen Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher and it's astoundingly freaky.  Poe is one of my favorite authors, which is no surprise, since practically everyone with dark sensibilities loves him.  For those that don’t know, I posted a review of three of his classic creepy tales last November here. 
The cliché of “a friend in need is a friend indeed” comes to mind when I read this classic.  The unnamed narrator describes Roderick Usher as his childhood friend and ventures to visit him after receiving a distressing letter.  The beginning sets to tone of this popular tale.  As the visitor rides towards the withering estate, he eyes the dilapidated and eerie surroundings and the reader instantly feels the creeping sensation of despair permeating from the Usher house.  When he finally sees his friend, Usher, it’s no surprise that his disposition mirrors the image of its master’s home; all frail and deteriorating. 

Upon visiting Usher, he learns just how sick he is – not just physically but mentally.  Naturally, the creepy classic has a sinister doctor who’s completely useless.  Usher ails from serious mental issues, which affect how he treats others, including his sister, Lady Madeline, who’s sick too.  Despite his visit and the many days spent comforting Usher, the narrator witnesses Usher unravel. 

Only the wealthy would sit idle day after day in a bizarre state of nothingness until the inevitable doom arrives.  God forbid the narrator suggests a different doctor for his sickly friend.  But he doesn't and so he witnesses his friend’s sister die and agrees to bury her with Usher.  Creepy, indeed, but intriguing, nonetheless.  The vivid descriptions and build up alone was what captivating me throughout this tale.  My favorite part is right before Usher’s destruction, at the climax, when the narrator reads Usher a classical story.  While he reads various verses in the tale, spine-chilling clamorings happen simultaneously.  Usher starts ramblings incoherently, and admits he's buried his sister alive.  And then, of course, once Lady Madeline comes back from the dead, all hell breaks loose.

In the end, I was frustrated when the tale ended too abruptly - just when it was getting really good.  Obviously I wanted more.  Alas, that will ever be.  If you get a chance to read this brilliantly written tale, please do.  You won’t be disappointed.  I picked my up a - you should too.

Mina B. 


David Powers King said...

Hello, fellow campaigner! I'm not in your group (but I am a YA author), but I still wanted to check out your blog and say, "HI!"

Wow. This place is fantastic. Count me as a new follower! :)

Elana Johnson said...

I think I need to read more Poe... I like dark stuff.

Mina Burrows said...

@David - Hey. Thanks for stopping by. I just visited your site too. Cool.

@Elana - This tale was amazing. It's been so long since I've read it, I'd forgotten how brilliant it is. Looking forward to reading Possession

Alica McKenna Johnson said...

I haven't read much Poe- I will have to pick this one up.