Essay on Edgar Allen Poe's Fall of House of Usher
Bipolar disorder affects many people today as well as in the time of Edgar Allen Poe when it was then called melancholia. Poe was diagnosed with this disorder and it plays an integral role in his story, “The Fall of the House of Usher” (1839). This story is heavily influenced by this disorder or its presently associated symptoms and also describes one way that bipolar disorder can genetically affect an entire family.
To fully understand a story involving this disorder, it is cardinal to know the exact definition of bipolar disorder, as well as its symptoms and previous aliases. The Oxford English Dictionary defines bipolar disorder as: “a form of mental illness characterized by one or more episodes of mania typically accompanied by one or
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He also experienced stages of depression including binges of drinking and even hallucinations (Meyers 252). Poe also had a recorded attempt of suicide in November 1848 (Meyers 252). According to Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison, “Poe was scarcely alone in suffering from both manic-depressive illness and alcohol and drug abuse” (Jamison 37). Jamison seems to have diagnosed Poe with manic-depression or bipolar disorder. From other places in Jamison’s book, Touched with Fire: Manic Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament, it’s reasonable to believe that Poe’s artistry most likely stems from his disorder allowing him to be even more creative. Perhaps Poe’s own psychological problems influenced his portrayal of Usher in this short story. As aforementioned, both Poe and his fictitious character Roderick Usher suffer from bipolar disorder. This was not by coincidence. It seems clear that Poe’s reasoning for this is to give the public a way to see inside Poe’s on diseased mind and better understand not only his works, but also himself. An author’s best ways to display his own problems are to weave them into a story as is done in “The Fall of the House of Usher.” One can better understand his mind through a story than with descriptions of his symptoms alone. Bipolar disorder is a hereditary disease.