Poe's Short Stories

Illuminating Poe's Interior Spaces College

As the narrator of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher” thinks to himself when he is unnerved by the sight of the story’s titular house, “while, beyond doubt, there are combinations of very simple natural objects which have the power of thus affecting us, still the analysis of this power lies among considerations beyond our depth” (Poe 200). While his story’s narrator is unable to describe what about the house specifically bothers him so, Poe himself does not seem to believe that such considerations are truly “beyond our depth,” and even wrote a humorous essay titled “The Philosophy of Furniture” to describe the effects of different interior arrangements. Though the essay was written to make fun of the tone of contemporary philosophy essays, its claims seem to be reflected in some of Poe’s stories such as “Ligeia” and “The Fall of the House of Usher.” Comparison of the interior spaces in those stories to Poe’s concept of an “ideal room” in his essay can illuminate Poe’s process and explain why he made specific choices in his detailed descriptions of rooms and furniture.

One of the most noticeable things about the mansion the narrator of “The Fall of the House of Usher” visits is its pervading darkness and gloom....

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