The Fall of the House of Usher

Gothic Influences of The Monk on “The Fall of the House of Usher” College

Matthew Lewis’ The Monk, published in 1796, built on the Gothic tradition established by the earliest authors in the genre, including Horace Walpole and Ann Radcliffe. Although it was not the first Gothic novel, it was one of the earliest and certainly the most scandalous of its period, and had lasting effects on the genre, from soon after it was published through the present. The Monk’s influences on the Gothic genre are evident in Edgar Allen Poe’s 1839 short story, “The Fall of the House of Usher.” This novel and story share themes of dark and eerie settings, the supernatural, and familial relationships. Lewis’ The Monk takes place in its contemporary setting of late eighteenth century Madrid (which the author provides thinly veiled political commentary about, particularly regarding the Spanish Inquisition) and intertwines multiple narratives. These include the love story of Antonia and Don Lorenzo, his nun sister’s pregnancy and her punishment, her lover’s adventures and quest to reunite with her, the pious monk Ambrosio’s discovery that his most trusted mentee is a woman, who seduces him, and Ambrosio’s violation of Antonia and literal fall from grace. The multitude of storylines culminates at the conclusion, when Matilda,...

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