Saturday, November 17, 2007

House of Identities

Journal No. 6
English 48A

Dr. Scott Lankford
Author I chose: Edgar Allan Poe
I. "While I gazed, this fissure rapidly brain reeled as I saw the mighty walls rushing asunder -- there was a long tumultuous shouting sound like the voice of a thousand waters -- and the deep and dark tarn at my feet closed sullenly and silently over the fragments of the "House of Usher."

II. The fissure in the House of Usher has widened and the house implodes and falls into the earth.

III. The main character of the story is fleeing the House of Usher and looks back as he hears a sound only to see that the house itself has fallen to pieces. This image reminds me of a person who is struggling to be able to tell the difference between the real and the imagined. This is perhaps what happens in the mind of someone who is getting therapy for psychosis or schizophrenia. I believe that this person has created these characters and situations in their minds to avoid reality. Roderick and Madeline Usher could both be figments of the main character's imagination. When Madeline dies (or Roderick believes that she is dead), her death seems to be a representation of a specific portion of the main character's psychology that is missing or dead. When she returns or comes back to life, perhaps the main character is acknoweldging that part of his brain again. Roderick and Madeline then die together. Is this where the main character is losing more of his well-built fantastical world? As he flees from the home, the house destroys itself and falls deep into the ground. This could be the final representation of a mad man gaining sanity back, though to him it seems as though his whole world has literally come crashing down around him. He does not know where reality ends and where madness begins.

As I was reading the ending of the story, I was reminded of a recent account of the same situation. In the movie "Identity," ten characters all meet at a hotel, stranded in the middle of the night in the rain. One by one, the characters are killed off. At first, these seem to be people who are dying in brutal ways. However, we later realize that these are not individuals but instead the personas created by a man with schizophrenia. As each of these personas are exposed, they die off. There is a good cliff hanger at the end, though, and the murdering schizophrenic man gets away with murder. To me, the movie is clearly based on "The Fall of the House of Usher." It was not quite as well written, though. :)


drscottie said...

20/20 Poe has inspired countless movies!