The short stories of Edgar Allan Poe The Fall of the House of Usher and The Cask of Amontillado shows the downfall of noble families or persons—The Usher’s in the former and Fortunato in the latter. Both short stories also feature eerie vaults and spaces. The demise of the noble family represents the downfall of humans in general and the eerie setting represents the human consciousness. Downfall and Vaults
The title The Fall of the House of Usher foreshadows what would happen in the story literally and figuratively. Roderick Usher and his sister Medeline are the last of their noble family because only one of the Usher’s family members survives in each generation. “…the stem of the Usher race, all time honered as it was, had put forth, at no period, any enduring branch; in other words, that the entire family lay in the direct line of descent,” (Poe).
Making the characters noble is just Poe sticking to the guidelines of Aristotle that a tragedy must be about characters of nobility. What Poe really wanted to convey is that everybody (even noble men) can “fall” just like the Usher’s. D. H. Lawrence meanwhile has explained perfectly what Poe is trying to convey in his constant use of vaults as symbols. “All this underground vault business in Poe only symbolizes that which tales place beneath the consciousness. ” (Lawrence, ch. 6).
This meant that the act of burying Fortunato and Medeline alive by Montresor in The Cask of Amontillado and Roderick Usher in The Fall of the House of Usher respectively is, on the surface, just talked about lightly but beneath lies the murderous intent of the characters with varying motivations. Montresor buried Fortunato alive to avenge whatever insult he has done to him while Roderick Usher may have allowed his sister to stay buried alive despite hearing her screams out of love because he does not want her anymore to suffer.
Works Cited Poe, Edgar Allan. The Fall of the House of Usher. Bartleby. com. 28 April 2009. <http://www. bartleby. com/195/10. html> Poe, Edgar Allan. The Cask of Amontillado. Literature. org. 28 April 2009. <http://www. literature. org/authors/poe-edgar-allan/amontillado. html> Lawrence, D. H. Studies in Classic American Literature: Chapter 6 Edgar Allan Poe. 28 April 2009. < http://xroads. virginia. edu/~HYPER/LAWRENCE/dhlch06. htm>