In the story “Fall of the House of Usher”, Edgar Allen Poe’s use of setting is very important. The story is about a guy, the narrator who goes to visit his old childhood friend as he and his sister are dying. Roderick Usher, the friend, and his twin sister Madeline are the last remaining members of the Usher, who maintained a very tight family line. The problem is that the two remaining members of the Usher family are dying, this is why the narrator, who is not given a name goes to visit the family.
As the narrator arrives on the seen of the House of Usher, he makes many observations as to the exterior of the house. One of the first observations was of the “melancholy House of Usher,” melancholy meaning a depressive or pensive mood. This basically says that the house looked very dark and gloomy from the outside. The presence of depressive characteristics of the house and yard also exsist.
The simple landscape features of the domain-upon the bleak walls-upon the vacant, eye-like windows-upon a few rank sedges-and upon as few white trunks of decayed trees-with an utter depression of soul which I can compare to no earthly sensation more properly than to the after-dream of the reveler upon opium.
As the above quotation suggests, the utter appearance of the house is so depressing that it cannot be compared to anything else ever seen. The only possible comparison is the hallucinations associated with the use of Opium.
In many ways, the appearance of the House of Usher reveals many characteristics about its tenants. The walls of the House of Usher “reminded me of the spacious totality of old wood-work which has rotted for long years in some neglected vault, with no disturbance from the breadth of the external air.” What the narrator was trying to establish was the idea that if the walls had touched air, after they had not for many years, they would crack, and could be metaphorically referred to as dead. This is much alike the fact that its ‘proprietors’, Madeline and Roderick who had not left the house for many years.
In Conclusion, I think that Edgar Allen Poe’s use of setting in this short story was impeccable. He not only helped the reader to imagine the appearance of the topography of the landscape, but also used the setting to help the reader to look into the soul of the characters.