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Lady Madeline - The Fall of the House of Usher

            The dark, dreary and often frightening writing style of Edgar Allan Poe is often misunderstood. Poe's unique talent for creating a genuine sense of dread and mystery in many of his stories, has led readers and critics alike to peg him as a one-note author - however brilliant he may have been. .
             Universally, the name Edgar Allen Poe and the term Gothic fiction, go hand-in-hand. "The Fall of the House of Usher" stands above his other masterpieces as the epitome of his use of eerie and atmospheric descriptions. In the story, Poe incorporates nearly every known element of great Gothic literature, including the character of Lady Madeline. Opinions differ as to Madeline's fate; did she die and rise from the dead, or was she buried alive and found a way out of her horrific grave? Typical of Poe's penchant for keeping his stories shrouded in mystery, the reader is never given full disclosure of Lady Madeline's circumstances. The illusion of her grave piques the curiosity of the reader, and it's that very mystery that represents what beats at the core of Gothic fiction.  .
             Poe's expertly crafted imagery allows the reader to believe that Lady Madeline as being buried alive, yet that belief is questioned throughout the story. The description of her illness should not be taken lightly: "A settled apathy, a gradual wasting away of the person, and frequent although transient affections of a partially cataleptic character, were the unusual diagnosis." During the 18th and 19th centuries, diseases like this were not uncommon, hence the many occurrences of premature burials. Lady Madeline suffered from these cataleptic states in which she appeared lifeless. This depicts a major hint that she suffered from a live burial. Poe took his reputation for writing Gothic stories a step further with the theme of living inhumation. He involves this theme in many stories, including "The Premature Burial"." Here he shows in detail the dying process of one undergoing premature interment: "The unendurable oppression of the lungs.

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