In "The Fall of the House of Usher", Edgar Allen Poe introduces us to a world of insanity, where all characters are subjected to extreme states of madness and mental dissolution. Roderick and Madeline Usher are the sole survivors of the "all time-honored Usher race." They both suffer from a severe, yet unknown illness. While the writer does not give any clear and rational clues as to what motivates Roderick to afflict certain acts upon his sister, It is evident that Roderick's motivation may only be one of insanity. The narrator describes the Usher family as always having stayed in the direct line of descent.
As a scientific fact, people know that inbreeding may cause mental and physical anomalies amongst their descendants. This just very might well be the source for Roderick's insanity that leads him into committing such hideous acts towards his sister. Insanity, explainable partially from being a product of ongoing inbreeding within the Usher race, but additionally may be rooted by a suffering of severe manic depression, as he witnesses his beloved twin sister's gradual descent into disintegration. The relationship between the two siblings is of strange nature. Madeline and Roderick are not simply brother and sister but they are twins, and furthermore, identical twins whose existence is so interconnected that the decomposition of one (Madeline), triggers mental fallout of the other (Roderick). "Sympathies of a scarcely intelligible nature existed between them (p.
54) " - as the narrator describes. An affinity with an almost parallel existence. Two existences that may be visualized as one. Roderick's insanity and depression might also be rooted into the ever so gloomy house within its dark, mystic atmosphere which he has enclosed himself in. His environment is described as; "an atmosphere which had no affinity with the air of the heavens, but which had reeked up from the decayed trees, and the gray wall, and the silent tarn - a pestilent and mystic vapor, dull, sluggish, faintly discernable, and leaden hued (p. 45)." An atmosphere if one was to spend a considerable amount of time in, probably would render all who are sane into the realm of madness.
Roderick Usher describes the house in a poem he recites to his dear friend the narrator, as once being a radiant palace which eventually grew dreary. The house, just like Roderick and Madeline, as well as the Usher race has come to its end. There is a parallelism between the house, Roderick, and Madeline as they may all be tied up to the narrator, and his existence. The house of Usher maybe seen allegorically as the narrator's physical state or even his health. The house in general constituting primarily of matter or physical property.
Details such as the fissure extending from the roof to "the sullen waters of the tarn" explain the aging and decay of the house. As for Roderick, he may be portrayed as pure insanity. Simply, a state of mind - The narrator's. Madeline is evidently his soul. The suffering of his dark despaired soul transposes his mind into insanity, fear, and horror. When Roderick buries his sister he knows she is still alive, and by attempting to murder his sister, his own life shall also perish.
A mind and body need a soul to survive. The soul being the essence of that being. However her existence is still present only to dwell upon Roderick's. Eventually Madeline shall rise from her tomb to incarcerate Roderick, the house, and herself into the depth of the dark, endless tarn of existence. The tarn is symbolic in a sense that it may be viewed as a reflection of the narrator's mind, body, and soul. In the reflection of the tarn, the narrator sees the house (ultimately himself) with its vacant eye like windows.
Windows are the eyes to the soul. "When I again uplifted my eyes to the house itself from its image in the pool, there grew in my mind a strange fancy - a fancy so ridiculous, indeed, that I but mention it to show the vivid force of the sensations which oppressed me (p. 45)." The narrator's deeply burdened emotions are affected greatly by his delusive imagination. The tarn may also represent death, in its most morbid state, which evokes the narrator's greatest fear; a blight, endless existence of nothingness. Roderick's motivation therefore strives on the basis of his most horrid fear, death. An insane driven mind whose motivation lies solely in the capturing of one's soul..