This brief but informative essay is a literary commentary on the incipit of The Fall of the House of Usher, written by Edgar Allan Poe. It focuses on the atmosphere created by this descriptive passage.
[...] As regards narratology, the narrator is to use Gerard Genette’s terminology (Figures III) homodiegetic and extradiegetic since the unnamed narrator is not a character of the later metanarrative. Thus the narrator’s characterisation is made only by his own speech and his actions. From the description the narrator makes, he shows that he is rationalist. He effectively wants to rationalise things. Moreover, he behaves like a pedagogue since he justifies himself or at least the terms he employs: know not how it was but with the first glimpse of the building, a sense of insufferable gloom pervaded my spirit. [...]
[...] Poe, or rather his narrator, praises the beauty of sadness for its poetic value. The description also creates the feeling of oppression, first through 2/4 words: clouds hung oppressively low in the heaven” shadowy fancies that crowded upon Then an element which is of more paramount importance through which is conveyed oppression is rhythm. Many sentences are effectively fragmented and this fragmentation consequently enhances the feeling of oppression. A quotation supporting this assertion is looked upon the scene before me 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 to the veil” (l.6-10). [...]
[...] few white trunks of decayed trees with an utter depression of the soul” (l. bitter lapse into everyday life the hideous dropping off the veil” (l. “there was an iciness, a sinking, a sickening of the heart an unredeemed dreariness of thought” (l.10-11), “sorrowful expression” (l.18), a black and lurid tarn” (l.19), shudder even more thrilling than before” (l. ghastly tree-stems” (l.21). This exhaustive list highlights the unnamed narrator’s use of accumulation to create this feeling of fear in the reader. [...]
[...] The Fall of the House of Usher is no exception. Besides at the time when the short story was published, it was taxed to be Germanic”, which refers to the genre called Gothic. The excerpt I have to comment on is the twenty-one-line incipit of this first person narrative. This passage can be defined as a description the description of the House of Usher and its surroundings and furthermore the effects they have upon the narrator. What I will try to demonstrate in my study is that this descriptive passage aims at setting the tone of the short story. [...]