It is impossible not to feel afraid while reading the short story entitled “The Fall of the House of Usher” by Edgar Allan Poe. This essay writer story told the horrific details of Roderick and Madeline Usher who were already in their final stage of their lives and were about to die in their family house. Aware of his impending death and that of his twin sister, Roderick wrote a letter to his best friend who became the unnamed narrator in the short story. It can be said that the adjective that best describes the narrator based on the passage is sympathetic because no matter how worried he was to go to the House of Usher, he still decided to push through out of sympathy to Roderick Usher and his difficult situation.
The passage clearly established the special bond that existed between the narrator and Roderick Usher. “Its proprietor, Roderick Usher, had been one of my boon companions in boyhood; but many years had elapsed since our last meeting.” (Poe, 1839) The author indicated here that the narrator and Roderick knew each other since they were young, but they eventually got separated because they had to live their own lives already. Nonetheless, having not seen each other for a long time did not stop Roderick from writing a letter to the narrator who he still considered as his best friend. However, instead of feeling happy after hearing from Roderick once again, the narrator felt sympathy upon learning the difficult condition of Roderick. “The writer spoke of acute bodily illness—of a mental disorder which oppressed him—and of an earnest desire to see me, as his best, and indeed his only personal friend, with a view of attempting, by the cheerfulness of my society, some alleviation of his malady.” (Poe, 1839) Thus, even if he had plenty of doubts and concerns, the sympathy of the narrator to Roderick and his difficult situation eventually prevailed which made him finally accept the invitation to go to the House of Usher.
There cannot be any doubt that when Roderick mentioned in the letter that he had an acute bodily illness, this helped to persuade the narrator even further to go the House of Usher. “It was the manner in which all this, and much more, was said—it was the apparent heart that went with his request—which allowed me no room for hesitation; and I accordingly obeyed forthwith what I still considered a very singular summons.” (Poe, 1839) The narrator sensed that Roderick must be in a very difficult situation with that acute bodily illness, and it must be a serious case because he would not have written a letter and requested the narrator to go to the House of Usher if this illness was just a mild one. Thus, the sympathy of the narrator over Roderick’s difficult situation once again entered the picture which made him say yes to go to the House of Usher.
The narrator did not know what to expect about the appearance of the House of Usher. As he was already very near that house, his fears and concerns emerged once again. “I had been passing alone, on horseback, through a singularly dreary tract of country; and at length found myself, as the shades of the evening drew on, within view of the melancholy House of Usher. I know not how it was—but, with the first glimpse of the building, a sense of insufferable gloom pervaded my spirit.” (Poe, 1839) The narrator clearly got afraid upon mere sight of the House of Usher. It was like a house of horror to him from the outside, and this fear almost prevented him from going there. He already convinced himself to go to the House of Usher to respect his friendship with Roderick and to sympathize with him because of his illness. However, nothing prepared him for what he saw as he was approaching the House of Usher. The narrator did not expect to see this house to be so dreadful from the outside which gave him that feeling of gloom and almost made him go back already. He thought that visiting Roderick would just be an ordinary process of a person visiting a friend, but he was clearly mistaken.
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It did not help that the narrator himself could not explain why he suddenly felt gloom upon seeing the House of Usher from the outside. “What was it—I paused to think—what was it that so unnerved me in the contemplation of the House of Usher? It was a mystery all insoluble; nor could I grapple with the shadowy fancies that crowded upon me as I pondered.” (Poe, 1839) He had a lot of things going through inside his head. Seeing the House of Usher from the outside somehow gave the narrator a feeling that he was also not going to have a great time inside that house. Nonetheless, despite al these doubts and fears, the sympathy of the narrator to Roderick still prevailed because he did not want to back out just because he got scared by the physical appearance of the House of Usher. He wanted to honor his friendship with Roderick especially as he knew that he was badly needed by this man during a difficult time.
The bottom line here is that it is very easy to admire the narrator in this story because of his sympathy to Roderick. He had not seen Roderick for a long time already and yet, he agreed to go to the House of Usher to meet his friend and check out his situation. “A letter, however, had lately reached me in a distant part of the country—a letter from him—which, in its wildly importunate nature, had admitted of no other than a personal reply.” (Poe, 1839) This indicated that the narrator must face a long travel just to make it to the House of Usher but still, he decided to push through out of sympathy to Roderick. It would have been easier for the narrator to just reject this letter from Roderick and pretend that he could not remember this man anymore especially because a lot of time had passed already when they last saw each other. However, the narrator was not a man who makes a lot of excuses. He was sincerely concerned about the welfare of Roderick especially upon learning his sickness. Thus, the narrator deserves to be appreciated for showing sympathy to Roderick and being there for his friend when he was being counted upon.
Poe, Edgar Allan. The Fall of the House of Usher. 1839