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Lecture 1

ENG 1120 Lecture Notes - Lecture 1: Gothic Fiction, Litotes, Hyperbole


Department
English
Course Code
ENG 1120
Professor
Breid Mc Ilkenny
Lecture
1

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“The Fall of the House of Usher” – Poe
January 15, 2016
- Orphaned at age 3, and raised by John Allen
- American Romantic movement
Response to the Enlightenment
Emotion & intuition over rationalism and intellectualism
Sense of self and importance of individual experience
Works set in indefinable places and times
- Idealised beauty and melancholy
- Art for art’s sake
No need for a moral or political purpose
- Poe and the short story:
Search for symmetry, unity of art, reaction of the reader
- Poe and realism:
Wrote gothic tales, was a dark romantic
- Gothic fiction:
Power of suggestion, atmosphere of horror/terror, heightened sensibilities
“The Fall of the House of Usher”
- Tale of perception, to perceive is to fear
- Family and house are analogous
- Usher & his sister as one soul housed within one body (the house itself)
All deteriorate as one, interdependent
- Symmetry: Imagery of opening is strongly tied to the conclusion
- Introduction: Sense of foreboding, not enjoyable (in the traditional sense), poetic
(alliteration),
Litotes: deliberate understatement (opposite of hyperbole)
- Used to ground the story, keep it from becoming overblown
Personification of house, death
Introspection of self to the point of self-destruction
- Poe believed in the importance of written communication, letter is an appeal to the soul
- Usher is clearly unwell, fragile, almost corpse-like
- Numerous references to drug use
- Fear is at the heart of the story, driving motivation of Usher
- Usher’s vault/tomb-like painting
No escape, death and doom are inevitable
“Ghastly and inappropriate splendor”
- Poem:
Gives the historical and emotional story of the family
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