A Journey into the Darkness: Symbolism in “The Fall of the House of Usher”
With just a few short words of “vacant and eye-like windows” (Poe 122), the description of those that reside in the mansion of “The Fall of the House of Usher” has been laid before the reader. As an author puts pen to paper, the creative use of words can be found to bring forth symbolism that means more than just a description of an object, event, or person. It embodies the essence of the heart and soul of what it reflects.
The House as a Mirror
Edgar Allen Poe’s use of literary devices and theories is spectacular as he takes the reader on an emotional and intellectual rollercoaster. With the use of symbolism, he paints a picture of the death, depression, and doom that awaits the family within the mansion. The unnamed visitor in the story is given a glimpse into something deep within the family before he enters the door. Poe paints such an intricate picture that foreshadowing and symbolism easily get combined to create a color sensation of darkness drawing the reader deeper into the story and plays upon the emotions.
The first thing the visitor notices as he rides up to his old school friend’s house is the “vacant and eye-like windows” (122) which unknowingly symbolizes to him and the rest of the world, the depression and emptiness that he will discover as he meets his friend he has not seen in years. He looks at his friend, Roderick Usher, and sees him with a “ghastly pallor of the skin” (125). There is no life behind his eyes. He is a mirror image of death in a living man and a sense of what is to come to him and his home. The symbolic windows that are seen from the outside of the house are in actuality the eyes of those that live there, including Lady Madeline. Both are “wasting away” a physical and mental disease that is eating them both alive (126).
As the windows are the eyes into the soul of the house and the family that call it home, the house itself is symbolic of the decay of the family line. The visitor sees the house as an “excessive antiquity” with the “discoloration of ages” and moss growing everywhere while there was no “extraordinary dilapidation” despite “evidently decayed condition of the individual…