Hanley Town

Fall of The House of Usher Voyant

My question in regards to this short story was in regards to the supernatural elements. Rather why Poe seems to inject a mythic element into the story at the end with the collapsing home and the ghostly nature of Usher’s sister. Voyant actually gave me a deep insight into the narrators train of thought through the repetition of words he was using. Words like “walls”, “ghastly” and “countenance” seemed to relay a man trapped inside a horrific enclosure. And yet it’s hard to say that the man was constantly in fear after reading the novel, instead some of they key words were the mans constant referral to “character”, “eyes”, and “face”. In fact, if you look at the majority of the words that are repeated, they are often either hints of a persons emotional state or some sort of strong feeling that is felt upon observing something. The narrator is constantly describing and observing his environment, almost with a sense of neurosis. As Usher begins to break down, his observations become more and more erratic because he is in turn viewing an erratic individual. Certain trends become more pronounced near the end of the story, the narrator focusing more on his own paranoia and fear, the words “heard”, “frightened”, and “nervous” being much more prevalent. I believe the supernatural elements of the story were in fact a combination of both the neuroses of Usher AND the narrator, the destruction of the house being a manifestion of the narrators sensibilities. Voyant was helpful in this, because while I noticed that the narrator was very descriptive by nature, I didn’t realize just how focused he was on almost neurotically analyzing and examining his environment. It almost seems to imply a form of OCD exasperated by the stress of his situation, which certainly adds a different spin to the short story since it appeared to be solely about Usher’s mental illness. Ultimately I can see how Voyant would be very helpful in breaking down stories, this sort of mathematical quantifying of terms and words can help find trends and patterns that might not be recognized otherwise.

1 Comment

  1. Lawrence Hanley

    Indeed! I love the way you use Voyant not to answer a particular (thematic or interpretive) question – – but instead to re-frame or contextualize your initial interest. Actually, to more thoroughly examine and understand your initial question. This seems to me to be Voyant’s greatest effect.

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