Historical Context in The Fall of the House of Usher
Reacting against didactic stories: Much of the literature in the 19th century sought to instruct or offer moral lessons. However, Edgar Allan Poe claimed that his contemporaries spent too much time being “didactic,” that they were too worried about making religious, political, and social statements with their writing. Poe considered such elements detrimental to what he considered the true purpose of writing: creating an effect. In the case of “The Fall of the House of Usher,” the primary effect conveyed is one of fear; however, the text still can be read didactically and lessons can be taken from the themes.
Gothic literature in response to romanticism: Originating in 18th-century England, Gothic literature became an important and distinctive movement with particular themes, symbols, and style that have carried on to this day: gloomy settings like castles and mansions; haunting figures like ghosts and the supernatural; symbols and colors like black and red. Poe’s Gothic style drew from many earlier elements and also incorporated aspects of loneliness, madness, helplessness, and horror, all of which contrasted sharply with the ideals of romanticism.
Historical Context Examples in The Fall of the House of Usher:
The Fall of the House of Usher🔒
"Who slayeth the dragon, the shield he shall win...." See in text (The Fall of the House of Usher)
"the old African Satyrs and Ægipans..." See in text (The Fall of the House of Usher)
"The disease of the lady Madeline had long baffled the skill of her physicians...." See in text (The Fall of the House of Usher)
"I feel that the period will sooner or later arrive when I must abandon life and reason together, in some struggle with the grim phantasm, FEAR.”..." See in text (The Fall of the House of Usher)
"the stem of the Usher race, all time-honoured as it was, had put forth, at no period, any enduring branch; in other words, that the entire family lay in the direct line of descent..." See in text (The Fall of the House of Usher)
"—the hideous dropping off of the veil...." See in text (The Fall of the House of Usher)