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      时间:2017-10-07 来源:英语广场

        【Abstract】As a gothic writer of the nineteenth century, Edgar Allan Poe believes that terror presented in his gothic novels, is “not of Germany but of the soul”. This paper aims to analyze how Poe displays the “terror of soul” in “The Fall of the House of Usher” through the mental derangement of the two protagonists, Roderick Usher and the narrator. Playing a drama of consciousness, Poe shows how the “atmosphere” of the House of Usher leads to insanity of the two protagonists. In this way, he elicits a growing fear in the reader.
        【Key words】The Fall of the House of Usher; terror of soul; mental derangement; protagonists
        As a gothic writer of the nineteenth century, Edgar Allan Poe presents an American translation of European terrors without resorting to the actual supernatural. In the preface to Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque, Poe wrote “if in many of my productions terror has been the thesis, I maintain that terror is not of Germany but of the soul”(2). Poe places the emphasis on psychological observation to explore the terror inherent in the human mind. This paper aims to analyze how Poe displays the “terror of soul” in “The Fall of the House of Usher” through the mental derangement of the two protagonists, Roderick Usher and the narrator.
        I. The madness of Roderick Usher
        The title of the estate, “House of Usher” is the appellation both of the family and the family mansion, implying the possible influence which “the character of the premises” has exercised on the character of the family. Roderick Usher inherits from his forebears the mansion and “a peculiar sensibility of temperament” (276). The gloomy atmosphere of the family mansion has an influence on its present owner both physically and mentally (Spitzer 357). Consequently, when the narrator meets with Usher, “the ghastly pallor of the skin”, “the miraculous luster of the eye” and “the silken, floating hair” (277) of Usher startle the narrator. Usher’s physical appearance is the embodiment of his inner world that suffers from an excessive “nervous agitation”, which the narrator observes as: “His action was alternately vivacious and sullen. His voice varied rapidly from a tremulous indecision to that species of energetic concision…” (278)
        Not only the narrator, but Usher himself is conscious of the “silent, yet importunate and terrible influence which for centuries had molded the destinies of his family” (282). He believes it is the influence that makes what he is now, whereas he is powerless to resist it. “The physique of the gray walls and turrets, and the dim tarn into which they all looked down” had brought about the effect upon “the morale of his existence” (278). Under such influence, Usher is in an acute state of terror and thus becomes “a bounden slave” to terror. He is afraid that he may give up life and reason altogether in the extreme horror which brings the intolerable anxiety and pain of soul. Therefore, he is fearful of terror itself. The fear of terror forces him to struggle with grim fantasy day and night.

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