One of my favorite writers, and that I feel connected with, is Edgar Allan Poe, not because of name matters as some used to tell me before, but for the way we see life and reflect it on both tales and poems. I believe there’s enough material out there that could serve as an inspiration for scary, creepy texts, very visual and with a different, alternative proposal. Poe seemed to think the same.
Among the stories I’ve read from him, there’s one in particular I cannot get tired from and always re-read after a while: “The Fall of the House of Usher,” which I see as a constant inspiration in many books, TV shows and even some movies, with material intended for either teens or adults. Seems like many agree with me on this, as I find only positive commentaries on this famous tale.
It didn’t surprised me, to be honest, since this is one of those stories that perfectly represent the gothic movement, not only because of the aesthetic, which is very well done by a master on the topic, but because it makes the reader think on uncomfortable matters such as sanity, human condition and family bonds for a long while, changing many points of view we used to believe were solid.
I consider that books, and any kind stories in general that is meant to be presented to a public, should have at least some substance, content, more than just entertaining purposes, and The Fall of the House of Usher is a perfect example on how this should be done: creating a unique world, interesting characters, a simple, yet original plot, deep dialogues and finish it with a dramatic plot twist.
Despite being a very short, brief tale, easy to read in a couple of minutes, Poe managed to get the reader into the world, put ourselves in the characters’ skin and feel everything they may have inside, may it be love, loss or the deepest sense of doom and claustrophobia. The fact that it’s not a light, simple reading doesn’t represent an obstacle at all, but the whole contrary: it adds more enchant to this sinister plot.
In a deeper sense, The Fall of the House of Usher explores the influence of certain places, especially one’s own home, in human mind, how it can change us, make us a different person and the different levels of effect it can generate in our minds. This idea is divided in two parts: those who adapt to the place, changing themselves in the process, and those who cannot do it, no matter what.
Also, it combines the two sides of literature Poe is famous for: prose and poetry, which he combines for a short while to create a distraction from the narration, a fantasy brief addition, right before the original plot starts to show its real, horrific face, playing with the readers’ emotions as if they were mere toys and leaving us seeing and thinking about the world under a different point of view. Needless to say that this is a new, darker perspective some may find unpleasant.
However, since nothing is as perfect as we’d like it to be, I wouldn’t recommend you to read The Fall of the House of Usher if you’re under hard, difficult times, if you suffer from depression, anxiety, or anything similar, that’s the only punctual negative aspect of this tale: its triggering nature. I myself had some hard minutes due to some descriptions, all of them metaphoric, but closely related to what I was feeling during those days.
Besides this unfortunate face of such an amazing and emblematic story, I consider that anyone who wants to be considered as part of the Gothic subculture, or alternative movement in general, should have read this story at least once, as it is one of those stories that rewrites itself every time you come back to it, changing its meaning depending on who you are while reading. You can call me whatever you want, but nobody can deny the emotional charge and potential in The Fall of the House of Usher.