Honour and Nobility in 'The Fall of the House of Usher'

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Honour is a curious thing, as it is something that is both incalculable and easily discerned. It can be anything from a knight in shining armor straight out of myth, or a stranger helping an old lady cross a busy intersection. The main character from Edgar Allan Poe’s work, The Fall of the House of Usher, features a main character who is very honorable. He sees it as his duty to come to the aid of his friend, Roderick Usher, despite having extreme misgivings over the situation and the house that Usher lives in.

One of the main character’s companions from childhood, Roderick Usher, sends the main character a letter that begs for his aid. The main character feels duty-bound to go due because of how much the letter displayed Roderick’s “… nervous agitation…”, which is the hallmark of a good friend. The main character is going even though he does not want to, as the letter was “… wildly importunate…”. Despite that, most people would beg off, saying that they have things to do or something that would still make them look good in the eyes of their friends. Instead, the main character drops everything and goes to the aid of Roderick, which is extremely noble of him. This nobility is doubled when the main character considers the house that he is going to, she considers it a place that conjures an “insufferable gloom…” upon his soul.

Sometimes, someone just knows when something is wrong. In a horror movie, for instance, the watcher frequently knows when a situation is about to go off the rails. The killer is near, and the characters do not know it. They have traced the phone calls, and they are coming from inside the house. Those are just two examples where dark malevolence positively drips off the television or theatre screen, just like how it does when the main character arrives at the House of Usher:

I looked upon the scene before me—upon the mere house, and the simple landscape features of the domain— upon the bleak walls—upon the vacant eye-like windows— upon a few rank sedges—and upon a few white trunks of decayed trees—with an utter depression of soul which I can compare to no earthly sensation more properly than to the after-dream of the reveler upon opium—the bitter lapse into every-day life—the hideous dropping off of the veil. There was an iciness, a sinking, a sickening of the heart—an unredeemed dreariness of thought which no goading of the imagination could torture into aught of the sublime.

It takes someone of a higher moral caliber to not immediately turn around and walk (or ride, in the main character’s case) away from a home such as the one that the main character describes. Indeed, most would laugh and joke about entering such a creepy place until they are challenged to do it. “Go inside the spooky house,” someone might say, and people would laugh until they realize that the speaker is serious. That is what the main character has done: he has gone into a place that he (and many others) would otherwise never go into under any circumstances. He does this for the sake of his friend, Roderick Usher, who views him as his “… best and indeed his only personal friend…”, which in and of itself is an honorable thing to do because he knows that Usher does not have anyone else to turn to.

Even then, it should be noted that the main character did not have to go. Besides his honourability, there is nothing strictly forcing him to go to the aid of Roderick Usher. However, it is the emotion behind his friend’s request that “… allowed no room for hesitation…” (Poe 4). That is what seals the deal for this main character’s honourability. Once he judged the situation to his satisfaction, he then went with utmost speed and due diligence to help his friend, who suffers from a “… mental disorder…” which makes people uncomfortable today, let alone back when Edgar Allan Poe wrote this story in the mid-1800s.

Overall, the main character from Edgar Allan Poe’s short story The Fall of the House of Usher is an honorable individual. He helps his friend despite desperately not wanting to go anywhere near his house. He does so anyway, because of how earnest Roderick Usher’s request is and knowing that his friend has no one else to turn to. It is that fact that exemplifies the main character’s honourability because he did not have to go. He could have easily burned the letter and gone about his life. Instead, he dropped everything and went to help his friend, the mark of a true and honorable friend.

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