This paper will compare and contrast the use of conventions in two stories by Edgar Allan Poe, "The Fall of the House of Usher" and "The Purloined Letter." "The Fall of the House of Usher" is an example of the horror or Gothic genre, whereas "The Purloined Letter" belongs to the detective genre.
Many of the conventions of the horror genre can be seen in "The Fall of the House of Usher." For example, from the very start of the tale Poe uses words and images which create an eerie tone. A sense of terror and dread arises from the narrator reporting "an iciness, a sinking, a sickening of heart" upon first glimpsing "the melancholy House of Usher" (540). An otherwordly atmosphere is created by the claim that the narrator's experience can be compared "to no earthly sensation more properly than to the after-dream of the reveller upon opium" (540). Inside the house, the sense of the supernatural continues within "an air of stern, deep, and irredeemable gloom" (543). Usher himself is described as having "a cadaverous complexion" (543) and a "ghastly pallor of the skin" (544). It soon becomes obvious that he is suffering under a severe burden of madness and guilt.
The conventions of the haunted house, the family curse, and premature burial are also contained in Poe's short story. Usher believes that supernatural forces exist within the house. A poem written by Usher, "The Haunted Palace," yields insights into how he feels about the house and its effect on him. The poe