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The Gothic Style in Old English Literature

            Edgar Allen Poe did not invent the gothic mode of writing, but from the first few lines of "The Fall of the House of Usher" it is evident that he completely adopted the style. Although always descriptive and colorful, nearly all gothic stories provide dark themes such as despair, death, and loss. Even where the mood of these stories may seem gloomy or depressing, gothic literature also adds a unique dimension for readers, as it speaks of dark historical themes, such as slavery and aristocratic decay. Poe's style in literary magazines played on this same concept, where the past haunts the present and stories don't have fairytale endings or pleasant, perfect characters. Edgar Allen Poe's application of gothic in "The Fall of the House of Usher" perfectly shows the many ways gothic can be used, as he uses it to make implications on both the theme and setting, and also the historical and cultural aspects of the story. .
             Just as the term "gothic" refers to the renaissance-era architecture styles of the dark ages, in this tale, Poe uses gothic in "The Fall of the House of Usher" to further visualize the haunted mansion and dreary landscape. We see this at the beginning of the story when the narrator describes the house with imagery like, "The windows were long, narrow, and pointed, and at so vast a distance from the black oaken floor as to be altogether inaccessible from within The general furniture was profuse, comfortless, antique, and tattered"(320-321). The setting Poe creates here is an old, barren mansion passed down by generations and potentially haunted by its deceased former owners, as Usher and his sister are the last descendents of their family bloodline. Poe uses the gothic mode to describe the "comfortless" and "antique" furniture, and "long" and "altogether inaccessible" windows in the house.

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