Symbolism is the practice of representing things by symbols, or of investing things with a symbolic meaning or character. Symbolism in “The Fall of the House of Usher” begins with the title. At the end of the story, the house itself does indeed fall; in the beginning and through out the short story, however, the narrator has effectively described the different symbols portrayed.
There is much symbolism associated with the house itself, the house’s front wall, as the narrator describes, resembles a giant face or skull. Roderick’ large and luminous eyes are a mirror image of the house’s “eye-like” windows. The Usher House seems so fragile that its instability will cause it to collapse. The walls that cover the Usher house seem to be in decay. Roderick’s soft and web-like hair resembles the house’s hair like fungi that hangs on the front wall. The fungi and physical deterioration of the house symbolizes the physical deterioration of Roderick and Madeline.
Roderick’s artistic creations have a definite fitting together with what happens to the House of Usher. Many examples following like when, he decides to paint an underground tomb then Madeline is entombed underground. He begins to sing about the decline of a house then the House of Usher declines. He screams that the dead Madeline is standing at the door and so ironically she is at the door. As a matter of fact, at the beginning of the short story Roderick declares that he will die from fear, which indeed comes true at the end of the tale. Storms in literature have always been used to describe climactic action, in the final scene, as the house crumbles into the lake a storm comes up.
There is a full, blood red moon overhead, symbolic of violence and death. The collapsing of the house straight down into the lake symbolizes the Usher’s family tree and its ultimate collapse. Most of the symbolism in “The Fall of the House of Usher” is internal. The House of Usher refers to both the house and the family. The frightening images inside the house symbolize the madness of the house’s residents and their thoughts. The upside down reflection of the house in the lake also symbolizes the upside down thinking of the Ushers. Last of all, the bridge over the lake symbolizes the narrator who serves as the only bridge to the outside world.
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