What was it—I paused to think—what was it that so unnerved me in the contemplation of the House of Usher?
As noted in the introduction, the setting is in an old castle in an unknown or remote part of the world; in its dark interior, there are huge ottomans and tapestries and, outside, the wind is blowing the casement curtains, causing strange configurations. Likewise, there are strange noises, producing an eerie, "phantasmagoric" effect on the inhabitants.
Everywhere there is "verdant decay. The walls there are "elaborately fretted with the wildest and most grotesque specimens of semi-gothic" that the narrator has ever seen. This mood, as well as the suspense that Poe creates, is sustained. Yet, were the story not set in the ghostly castle, or even in the "semi-gothic" abbey, the tale would still lend itself to the gothic genre merely by the presence of the supernatural element, an element which plays such a major role in the history of the Lady Ligeia herself.
This story is akin to "The Fall of the House of Usher" in that both the Lady Ligeia and the Lady Madeline possess an inordinate and superhuman strength to live.
Both women are presumed to be dead, but both of them possess a will to live that will not let either one of them remain dead.
For example, note the quotation which is placed at the beginning of the story; it is used two more times in the story by the Lady Ligeia to express her belief that some type of life continues after the apparent death of the body.
As a footnote, it is interesting that while Poe credited the quotation to Joseph Glanville, an author who actually did live and who was a favorite of Poe's, the exact quotation has as yet not been found among the author's works.
It is suspected, therefore, that Poe made up the quotation and merely assigned it to the writer. The key words in this quotation, which the Lady Ligeia utters, express her strong belief that the weak may die but that the strong do "not yield.
As is the case in almost all of Poe's short stories, the first-person narrator here is never named; he has no family or friends. We know nothing about his background; we know him only through his mental states that we witness in the story. This characteristic, as noted, is often typical of the Romantic writer.
The story takes place, then, at some distant time in some unknown place and concerns characters who have no discernible past.
Furthermore, the narrator is typical of many types of Romantic heroes in that he desires absolute knowledge; we see a similar situation in the Romantic story of Goethe's Faust.
Furthermore, the Romantic hero is completely dominated by his concept of love. The deep love which the narrator has for Ligeia is seemingly his sole reason for existing.
In his theory of poetics, Poe expressed the belief that the most perfect subject for a poem and, therefore, by extension, a short story would be "the death.
Even though the narrator marries the Lady Rowena, he can never put aside, or ignore, the power of his love for the Lady Ligeia, and it is possible that it is this all-abounding love which helps the Lady Ligeia to return to the narrator at the end of the story.
The tale of Ligeia begins with the narrator asserting his deep love for the Lady Ligeia, even though he cannot remember how or where he met her — or even if she has a family.
Thus, at the very beginning of the story, the mood is set: Poe and many other Romantic writers creates a certain vagueness and indefiniteness; these qualities, he felt, were essential to the production of the perfect art form.
By this, Poe meant that he wanted his stories to be removed from the mundane world; he wanted them to exist on a higher plane, one where ethereal matters were the main concern of art.
Because the narrator knows nothing of the Lady Ligeia's past he does not even know her last namethe emphasis is upon the purely transcendent nature of their relationship. Despite the obscure origin of Ligeia and the origin of the narrator's love for her, the certainty of that love is so strong that the narrator's entire being is suffused with it.
He is totally devoted to the Lady Ligeia. This lady, besides having a rare and perfect knowledge of many fields of study, possesses a rare understanding of life. In addition, her beauty is unique: The most outstanding feature of Ligeia is, perhaps, her hair; it is glossy and luxuriant — "hyacinthine," in the author's words.
Her eyes and lashes are beyond the beauty of "beings either above or apart from the earth. Her wisdom is consummate; the narrator is fully aware that she is infinitely superior to him in the "chaotic world of metaphysical investigations," and he is content to let her guide him through these studies.
Without her, he would have been a mere child groping through this strange and alien field of study. For a period of time, it would seem, the relationship between the narrator and Ligeia was ideal; then suddenly, without any warning signs, the Lady Ligeia grew ill.
As a ghostly hue covered her being, she still expressed a strong desire to live. As death approached closer and closer, she would pour out "the overflowing of a heart whose more than passionate devotion amounted to idolatry" towards the narrator.
At the end, she asked him to read a poem she had written about the ability to conquer life. The poem, which is as central to this story as "The Haunted Palace" was to "The Fall of the House of Usher," is set in a theater where the audience is composed of angels, and the actors are mimes silent creatures who are controlled by strange formless creatures, or things.
Suddenly, a phantom appears upon the stage and chases the mimes, but ultimately a "crawling shape intrudes" and It writhes! At the end of the play, we discover that the poem is entitled "Man," and that the hero of the play is "The Conqueror Worm.Suspense, dark settings, and mystery are key elements required to keep us at the edge of our seats.
Edgar Allen Poe's short story "The Fall of the House of Usher" is based on just that.4/5(75). A summary of “The Fall of the House of Usher” () in Edgar Allan Poe's Poe’s Short Stories. Learn exactly what happened in this chapter, scene, or section of Poe’s Short Stories and what it means.
Perfect for acing essays, tests, and quizzes, as well as for writing lesson plans. The Gothic Story: Introduction to "The Fall of the House of Usher" and "Ligeia" These stories represent the highest achievements in the literary genre of the gothic horror story.
By gothic, one means that the author emphasizes the grotesque, the mysterious, the desolate, the horrible, the ghostly.
Edgar Allan Poe – The Short Stories – (Free Audio Book) Description This is a collection of Edgar Allen Poe unabridged short stories by the master of horror. The Fall of the House of Usher was written by Edgar Allan Poe.
This poem is a classic example of what a Gothic suspense story is all about.
The beginning of the poem signalled the gloomy atmosphere as dictated by the wordings of the story when the author used the words insufferable gloom felt by house of Usher and his family. UNFINISHED SET Edgar Allan Poe- Background, "The Raven", "The Fall of the House of Usher" study guide by ImranD1 includes 85 questions covering vocabulary, terms and more.
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