The nineteenth century heralded the birth of one of the greatest Gothic writers of all time - Edgar Allen Poe. Poe captivated audiences by inducing a sense of dread in the reader, which was unparalleled by any other author. His use of diction and imagery instilled an atmosphere of suspense, while his intense scenes and plot depicted not only the mental disintegration of his characters but also that of himself. In the story The Fall of the House of Usher, Poe combines his use of supernatural imagery, projection of mental states, and mental disintegration to instill a sense of terror in the reader.
The supernatural imagery in The Fall of the House of Usher is used to create an eerie sensation in the mind of the reader. When employed, this Gothic device is able to induce the reader to become susceptible to the wishes of the author, leaving the plane of the realistic and traveling to the mystic world created in the story. For instance, the narrator describes the house as having "an utter depression of soul to which I can compare to no earthly sensation"(264) - as if to say that the house brought him from the world he previously existed in, only to bring him to a place of pure despair and depression. Upon further inspection, the narrator observes "a pestilent and mystic vapor"(265) hovering over the tarn; a mist such as one may see in a horror movie when the dead begin to arise from their grave (again, to present an unnaturally mystic atmosphere). As the narrator walks the hall leading to Usher's chamber, he breathes "an atmosphere of sorrow"(267). This permeates the readers psyche for one core reason - breath sustains life. When one breathes sorrow, one is sustained by sorrow; one adapts to the sorrow, allowing it to flood one's core self, usurping the status of the inner mind, and altering it to the general disposition of sorrow. Thus, one can see how the diction used in the story can infiltrate the mind and influence the perception of the reader.