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Mad Twist Mad Trist




TheFall of the House of Usher”contains many characteristics common in Gothic tales. Poe dedicatesthe five opening paragraphs to creating a Gothic mood characterizedby features such as mysterious sickness, a haunted house, doubledpersonality and a dreary landscape. The narrative uses unique Gothicelements since the author uses the outdated horror elements such as abarren landscape and severe weather. Moreover, the author has useddoubles to communicate the main idea in the book. For example, theterm house has both “literal” and “metaphorical” implication.The literal perspective refers to Roderick’s family house. On thecontrary, the term does also refer to the incestuously sustainedlineage in Roderick’s family (Linnarz 13). The narrator also getsliterary trapped in Usher’s house just as the biological fate ofthe incestuous family is confined within the home. Another situationreflecting a doubles communication includes the similarity of thenoises Roderick was hearing to the description the narrator wasreading from Sir. Launcelot Canning’s medieval romance novel calledthe “Mad Trist.” This essay will focus on the way the narrativedevelop a sense of double (Poe 8).

Oneof the key doubles in this narrative is the fact that Madeline andRoderick are twins. This implies that Madeline is a part of him. Theaction of Roderick burying his sister reflected the beginning of thetermination of the house of Usher. The author claims that Roderickhad no external link hence, once her sister dies the family cannotcontinue growing. In addition to the death of Madeline, the narratorclaims that the House of Usher was covered with moss and the wallswere decaying fast. Moreover, he noticed a crack on the wall as heentered into the mansion (Linnarz 19). The external condition of thehouse indicates that it was at risk of collapsing. When Roderick andthe author burry Madeline, the hope of continuity of the house ofUsher is further doomed since Roderick could not procreate without awoman, yet he had no outside connection. The author wanted to createan impression that the Roderick was signing the end of his family byburying his only sister who could have borne him children to expandthe family line (Poe 10).

The“Mad Trist” book also forms a double sense since the narratorhears the sounds that were similar to the ones described in the bookhe was reading aloud to help Roderick relax. Initially, he ignoredthe sounds because he thought he was just imagining them. As hecontinued reading, the noises were becoming more obvious. He confirmsthat the sounds he was hearing were real once he stops reading andrealizes that Roderick was drooping on the chair he was sitting. Inaddition, he was mumbling incomprehensible things. The narratorlearns that Roderick had been hearing the noises that resembled thesounds described in the book, and that they implied that they hadburied her sister alive (Linnarz 22). The “Mad Trist” storyconcerns the story tells of a person called Ethelred who was forcinghis way into a hermit’s dwelling. Ethelred was a hero, and heforced his way into the room using his “metallic-gloved hand” anda “mace.” The narrative claims that the hero was amazed thatafter he forced his way into the malicious hermit’s dwelling he wassurprised to discover that there was no such a person. Instead, hejust saw a brass shining brass shield handing on the wall with theencryptions, “Who entereth herein, a conqueror a conqueror hathbin Who slayeth the dragon a shield he shall win (Poe 11)” Thestory claims that Ethelred lifted his ace and struck the dragon onthe head. It produced a horrible scream and loud crashing thud as itfell on the floor. The narrator stopped reading because he was nowsure he heard a similar deafening sound and a crashing sound similarto the one described in the story.

Theaction of Ethelred breaking into the hermit’s place does alsodouble with Madeline’s escape from the tomb. Just as the hero hadstruggled to break into the hermit’s house so that he could killhim for he was allegedly malicious, Madeline was in real life tryingto break out of the tomb his brother had put him beneath their house.Furthermore, Ethelred was astonished to find a palace with only adragon instead of the dangerous hermit he had come to fight. On theother hand, the narrator was also amazed when he opened the door anddiscovered that the supposedly dead Madeline who was standing behindit (Linnarz 24).

Thecomparison between Madeline and the Dragon is significant becauseboth are victims of circumstance. The hermit had probably placed thedragon at the entrance of the palace to challenge intruders such thatonly the most competent hero will reach the shield. Similarly,Madeline was a victim of circumstance because his brother buried herlive against her wish, probably because she was a suffering from amysterious disease. In the story, Roderick claims that she wassuffering from a condition that scientists could not understand. Inaddition, she could not respond to external touch (Poe 9). Probably,this lack of physical sensitivity prevented her from having emotionalresponse that prevented them from getting intimate. The frustrationcould have made Roderick behave like a monster by burying her sisteralive. However, Madeline proves her strengths by managing to breakout of the coffin and attacking his malicious brother. Her strengthand courage are evidenced by the fact that her clothes were bloody,thereby implying she had broken out of the confinement usingexcessive force.

Inconclusion, the “Mad Trist” narrative doubles with the “TheFall of the House of Usher” because the events Ethelred, thelegendary hero in the book, is experiencing matches the eventshappening in the narrator’s environment (Linnarz 26). For example,the deafening noise the dragon is making also occurs at thenarrator’s place. Similarly, as the narrator is struggling to breakinto the malicious hermit’s place, Madeline is struggling to breakout of the tomb. Lastly, Ethelred was expecting to find a human (thehermit) in the house, but he found a dragon that he had to killinstead of the hermit for him to become a hero (Linnarz 26).Similarly, the sense of the “The Fall of the House of Usher”changes direction after it emerges that Roderick was a monster whowas trying to kill his sister through burying her alive.


Poe,Edgar Allan. “The Fall of the House of Usher.” Web. 14.February. 2014.



Linnarz,Julia. “An Analysis of Edgar Allan Poe`s `The Fall of the House ofUsher` and Washington Irving`s `Rip Van Winkle` and `The Legend ofSleepy Hollow` in Relation to Tzvetan Todorov`s Definition of theFantastic.” GRINVerlag,2010