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E 350 Lecture Notes - Anglo-Irish Big House, Canker, Political Philosophy

4 pages118 viewsSpring 2013

Course Code
E 350
Ellen Brinks

of 4
12 February
Similarities between Usher (1838) and Tell-Tale Heart (1843)
Diseased or insane mind linked to morbidly acute senses
Usher – enhanced hearing (sister in tomb)/taste/sight
Heart – enhanced hearing (heart beat)
Hidden crime
Usher – buried sister alive, incent (marrying in family for generations, p. 86)
Heart – murder
Descending helix – visual metaphor that encapsulates how Poe’s stories often
rise in intensity to a big climax
Pulls reader into the piece
Usher – storm (p. 97), Mad Trist
Repetition of “I”
First person
You almost become the narrator
Repetition as intensification
Usher – twins, narrator and Roderick (doubling in reactions, emotions),
Roderick’s painting (p. 91 – 92) and Madeline’s vault, Roderick’s song (song
about structure/its fall and Roderick himself), house is reflected in tarn, word
“house” (structure and family), repeating words and sentences (especially
Madness in Usher
Incent, inbreeding (depleted bloodline, doubling)
Environment/ideas/logic (reflection of madness in the house or the cause?)
Sister’s illness
Guilt – purpose of not letting out sister: escaping the legacy, letting the madness of
Usher vanish, trusting in self, crippling fear, grieving (she’s really gone, I’m imagining
this, I have to let her go)
Isolation within the house
Inability to control
Nervous agitation
Last embrace – Madeline’s return
Madeline and Roderick are victims of a family past
Parody of sexual act – unable to escape
Representations of entrapment
In madness and death, they are released
Born together, die together
Poe quote
“In the whole composition there should be no word written of which the tendency, direct
or indirect, is not to the one pre-established design. And by such means, with such care
and skill, a picture is at length painted which leaves in the mind of him who contemplates
it…a sense of the fullest satisfaction. The idea of the tale has been presented
unblemished, because undisturbed.”
Why end in madness?
Discovery as a journey
Descent into decay as focus, not destination
Term from Aristotle
Textual point at which a tragic protagonist makes a devastating discovery
Utter tragedy
Glasgow – “Jordan’s End” (1923)
Southern Gothic
South is locked in the past, obsolete traditions
Big houses that harbor incest, madness, live burial, decadence, violence (e.g.
Danger does not come from outside, but is a canker within (e.g. Heart, Yellow
South as decayed, diseased (e.g. environment in Usher, Yellow Wallpaper)
Arrival of figure from outside that precipitates the situation
Men “buried” in asylums, women in the house
Levy article
Gothic is not just confined to one time period
Visuals of Gothic works
Woman – heroine, beautiful, feature of cover, sexy
Man is shadowy
Dark, nighttime, heroine carries candle
Male hand covering heroine’s mouth – could be villain or savior
Castle – doors keep something contained or keep something out, corridors,
staircases (particularly going down)
Ghosts – not explainable

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