Freeside Europe Online Academic Journal

Freeside Europe Online Academic Journal

Modern cultural, literary and linguistic perspectives

Eszter Enikő Mohácsi: Houses and the Fate of Families: A Comparison of “The Fall of the House of Usher” by Edgar Allan Poe and Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner


DOI 10.51313/Freeside-2020-2-7


In Poe’s short story “The Fall of the House of Usher” the house where the events unfold is described as a sentient being, and its first description forebodes the occurrence of dark events. In addition, Poe utilizes the house of Usher to show how the fate of the house and its inhabitants are connected. The House of Usher stands for the building itself as well as the family, and Usher himself believes that the house is alive and can also exert its influence on the people living in it. The house of Thomas Sutpen in Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom! is equally significant and is used to symbolize Sutpen’s will to establish his dynasty. The house is furnished luxuriously to establish his reputation in society, and Sutpen finally succeeds in bringing home a wife to the completed house. However, after the war the house is in ruins and Sutpen is unable to defy his fate anymore: he cannot rebuild the house, which – several years later – is burnt down by his own daughter, the partly black Clytemnestra. This paper compares and contrasts the houses and their function in the two works.


Edgar Allan Poe, William Faulkner, Gothic, The Fall of the House of Usher, Absalom, Absalom!

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