The role of the narrator is usually considerable and crucial for any literary work and reader’s perception of the content. With the help of the narrator, the reader gets a wonderful opportunity to become involved into the events, to evaluate the conditions from the narrator’s perspective, and to realize why the idea of the story is developed in this very way.
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The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe is one of the best and most captivating works, where much attention is paid to the role of the narrator and his participation in the events. In this short story, the narrator is an old friend of the main character, Roderick Usher, who decides to come to Usher’s house in order to support him and help to overcome his and his sister’s illness.
The role of the narrator of the story The Fall of the House of Usher is great indeed; his rationality and his ability to represent the events from the side of an immediate participant of the story and from the side of an observer, who notice changes in the house but still cannot comprehend the reasons of why these changes bother other characters.
As a participant. Without any doubts, Edgar Poe was one of those writers, who could create a story and make each reader being involved into its events. His narrators are unique and unpredictable, because they are able to notice each detail and pay special attention to each trifle.
From the very beginning, the narrator of The Fall of the House of Usher introduces the reader “soundless day in the autumn of the year, when the clouds hung oppressively low in the heavens” (Poe 109), where such a dark description aims to warn the reader and hint that the events will hardly cause laugh or tears.
The narrator performs the role of the participant of the story and suggests the reader to follow him and be involved into each step, breath, and look. This Poe’s decision makes this short story interesting to deal with for any reader and really remarkable in the world literature.
As a survivor and rationalist. Another significant role of the narrator in this horrific story is connected to his survival and the ability to describe the events in the Usher’s house rationally. “From that chamber, and from that mansion, I fled aghast” (Poe 128), the narrator tells. Such a fast decision of his proves that these events touch not only the body or mind, not perception of this world and own position in it.
In spite of the fact, that from the very beginning, the narrator seems to be a pure rationalist, who tries to present only rational explanations and see only rational events, and a person, who will never believe or accept some irrational things, he considerable changes his mind and tries to escape from everything, he has already got involved. Some time passes, and the narrator loses own voice of reason and admits that his fears and superstitions increase considerable.
However, the fact that the narrator is the only survivor tells that his life is not ended on this note, and he has to face many other challenges in his life; or, vice versa, he becomes trapped into the mystery of this house and his life would never be similar to the one before the event with the Usher’s house. The end of the story proves that narrator’s rationality has been lost in the madness of that house, and now, he faces numerous irrational challenges, which may influence his life considerably.
As a person, who can make mistakes. I truly believe that one more significant role of the narrators is directed to each reader in order to explain that even pure rational and smart people can make mistakes or think wrong because of numerous external factors.
From the very beginning, the reader observes the narrator as a rational, smart, and organized person, who is ready to present logical explanations to each even in his life. However, he makes a terrible mistake, when he agrees to Roderick Usher about the death of his sister and the decision to bury her alive.
Within a short period of time, the destiny of these two characters knocks to their door; it was “the lofty and enshrouded figure of the lady Madeline of Usher” (Poe 128). Such development of the events can be easily foreseen by the reader, but the narrator tries to postpone this climax as far as possible because of own rationality, and he perfectly does his job. However, the narrator is crushed by the madness of his old friend and cannot cope with all around irrationality.
All people make mistakes and suffer because of the consequences they cannot avoid; many writers try to describe this theme in their works in order to teach the reader and help him/her to improve this life. Edgar Poe’s narrator in The Fall of the House of Usher is one few characters, who may perform several roles simultaneously and do it very well that allows readers to accept this story as a significant and educative piece of writing.
To become a participant of the terrible events, to evaluate how one action may destroy several lives and the whole house, and to comprehend that some kind of mystery is somewhere near – these are that major purposes, the narrator of the story wants to achieve. The narrator’s role is really significant in The Fall of the House of Usher, and the reader should not only to worry about the destiny of the major characters but also to learn, to think, and to believe in faith and our predestination.
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Poe, Edgar, A. The Fall of the House of Usher and Other Tales. New York: New American Library, Penguin Putman Inc., 1998.