In "The Fall of the House of Usher", Poe uses the life-like characteristics of the decaying house of Usher as a device for giving the house a supernatural atmosphere. This not only makes the story act upon the reader in a grabbing way, but it also creates an impression of fear, mystery and horror, typical for Poe’s literary works.
For example, from the very beginning of the story, the reader can tell that there is something unusual and bizarre about the old house. As the narrator approaches the home of his long-time friend, Roderick Usher, he refers to the house as the "melancholy House of Usher". This description in the beginning of the story prepares the reader for the mysterious events that will follow. Upon looking at the building, he even feels some sense of intolerable darkness which pervades his heart. The windows appear to be "vacant” and "eye-like” as if watching at the narrator and wandering through his mind. With ...view middle of the document...
This statement indicates that perhaps the house does indeed have some thrilling and spiritual nature. The narrator observes the details of the house once more and finds that the house has mold growing all over it and the masonry of the building is decaying. He says, that " there appeared to be a wild inconsistency between its still perfect adaptation of parts, and the utterly porous, and evidently decayed condition of the individual stones". This observation suggests that perhaps something eerie is holding the house whole, otherwise it would have fallen to the ground long ago. With this description, the house is also represented as a witness of many fates and a long period of history. It is as a mute observer of the time, knowing more, than anybody who lives in there.
Later on, when the narrator enters the house, he sees its inside as well as the odd behavior and personality of its inhabitants and is increasingly convinced that the house has some strange impact on the people living in it. For example, while walking through the passages he wonders why familiar objects such as the tapestries on the wall or the trophies fill him with such a feeling of increased anxiety and he even describes the armorial trophies as "phantasmagoric". Upon meeting Usher, the narrator remarks, "the physique of the gray walls and the turrets, and of the dim tarn into which they all looked down, had at length, brought about upon the morale of his existence". The narrator presents Usher's strange behavior always comparing it to the interior of the house. He later describes his own fears: "I endeavored to believe that much, if not all of what I felt, was due to the phantasmagoric influence of the gloomy furniture of the room...". He also describes his strange feelings of fright, which he has with no reason, indicating that the house has an unknown, abnormal effect on him.
Throughout the story, Poe's metaphor of the house and the inanimate objects inside serve to give a ghostly, thrilling atmosphere to the story. By presenting inanimate objects with vivid characteristics, he is giving the house a ghostly quality. This supernatural element serves to make Poe's story interesting and suspenseful in his presentation of the house's effect on its inhabitants.