Reviews and Analysis

An analysis on Edgar Allan Poe’s: The Fall of the House of Usher

In Poe’s short story, special emphasis is drawn to the house that the Ushers live in. In this story, there are two ways of looking at the house; the first way would be to acknowledge the house as a sentient being that shares the life-force of the inhabitants of the house. Throughout the short-story, the house mirrors the condition of its inhabitants – Roderick and Madeline Usher. The house is dilapidated and on the verge of collapse, much like the inhabitants of the house who become afflicted with a serious physical condition (in the case of Madeline Usher) and a psychological impairment (as is in the case of Roderick Usher). The house, despite its state of disrepair sustains itself up until Madeline attacks Roderick, upon which the house collapses. Once the lives of the two Ushers are extinguished the house in turn looses its life-force and crumbles.

The second way of looking at the house would be as a metaphor. This time the word ‘house’ means lineage, and owing to the ruinous nature of the house, and the Usher household not having any enduring branches, we can conclude that the Ushers have been passing down their genes incestuously from generation to generation – when at last only the twins Roderick and Madeline Usher remain. By now a considerable amount of harm has already affected the Usher genome, and its final inhabitants display the two major symptoms of inbreeding – physical and mental impairment. The final blow to the Usher ancestry however, occurs when Madeline attacks her brother. This final act of hostility symbolizes a union between the siblings, a final union that instantly leads to the destruction of the “house” and thereby the dynasty of the ushers.

One can only speculate that the story is in a way an allusion to Poe and his greatest fears – after all Poe did marry his cousin.

Dracula: An Ode to the Reverse Colonizer.

 

In this essay I hope to bring to notice the strong colonialist undertones that lay buried within the pages of this book. What’s interesting to note is that Stoker’s Dracula was published towards the end of the 19th century, when the English Empire was sloping towards her decline. By now the English began to question the morality of imperialism, and eventually came to doubt their status as a world power. As a result of this, they were slightly apprehensive about being colonized – either by the new emerging powers (USA and Germany), or by the “primitive” people whom they once ruled over.

Bram Stoker’s Dracula in my opinion symbolizes a reverse colonization. The book in its very essence portrays Count Dracula as the very embodiment of the east, on a quest to invade and colonize the west.

The reason the Count is bent on colonizing his colonizers can be found in the lines that he confides to Harker “There is hardly a foot of soil in all this region that has not been enriched by the blood of men, patriots or invaders,” proceeding which, the count questions the superiority of his race. Another interesting feature is that throughout the book the Transylvanians are portrayed as superstitious and daft, while the English on the other hand are shown to be polite and modernistic in demeanor.

If you think about it, what’s most scary about the count is not that he imbibes on blood and breaks bodies, but instead, it is the psychological fear associated with how he transforms bodies into something they’re not. This again can be regarded as a colonization of the body, wherein the weaker race fades out and takes on the characteristics of the stronger one. The reason Bram Stoker’s Dracula is scary, is not because of its inherent gore, but because it echoes the fears of the Victorian era.