I was inspired to create a creative adaptation by Edgar Allen Poe’s short story The Fall of the House of Usher. The creative adaptation I have prepared is a travel brochure advertising the titular House of Usher as a vacation destination. Although this is not the final product I had originally intended on handing in, I enjoyed producing the creative adaptation; the close examination of the text this creative project required deepened my understanding of Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher and allowed me to closely observe the rhetorical techniques described in E. Arthur Robinson’s scholarly article “Order and Sentience in The Fall of the House of Usher” as they are used within the text.
Originally, I had planned to write an essay examining the findings of E. Arthur Robinson’s scholarly article “Order and Sentience in ‘The Fall of the House of Usher’” in relation to our classroom study of The Fall of the House of Usher. Within the article, Robinson examines the importance and significance of the order in which Poe’s narrator notices and examines defining traits of the House of Usher. Descriptions of the Gothic mansion, specifically those which contribute to house’s sentience, are noted subtly and early in the text so that they may be drawn upon for comparison later. The story opens with the narrator making observations about the mansion’s “vacant eye-like windows” and the fungi hanging in “a fine tangled web-work from the eaves.” Robinson theorizes that these descriptions are not just some attempt on Poe’s part to emphasize the traditionally Gothic mood of the setting; instead, these descriptions are subtle personification that Poe will later use to compare the declining health of Roderick Usher to the decaying state of his ancestral home. Additionally, attributing vaguely human-like characteristics to the inanimate mansion further emphasizes the story’s underlying theme concerning the sentience of inorganic objects. The belief that the house possesses some form of sentience becomes a cornerstone of Roderick Usher’s madness; Robinson postulates that the inclusion of subtle details like those described above were conscious, purposeful decisions made by Edgar Allen Poe as he crafted a complex and interwoven surface layer of details which connect to and reflect the deeper, underlying themes of The Fall of the House of Usher (Robinson, 68).
It is clear that the language and imagery included in The Fall of the House of Usher is significant and permanent- to change it would be to irrevocably alter Poe’s rigorously crafted parallelisms. With this in mind, I decided to create a travel brochure advertising the House of Usher as a travel destination; I created the advertisements in my brochure utilizing the precise language Poe includes in the text of The Fall of the House of Usher. In brochure sections where I could not locate textual excerpts to convey the desired information, I worked to emulate Poe’s tone and diction.
Robinson’s article emphasizes the importance of Poe’s inclusion of various details to explicitly inform the reader of the scene and mood inside the House of Usher. With this in mind, I worked to include these same details within my brochure. I reasoned that if Poe’s imagery is so carefully integrated into and reflective of the overall themes of The Fall of the House of Usher, then that importance should be reflected in my brochure. In order to achieve this, I included the imagery Poe provides within the text as advertisements within my brochure; the descriptions of “Activities” and “Vacation Packages” within my creative adaptation are all based upon textual details present within The Fall of the House of Usher. My brochure is then almost a creative representation of Robinson’s thesis in his article “Order and Sentience in The Fall of the House of Usher:” Robinson theorizes that Edgar Allen Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher is constructed as an arabesque (a planned and intricate pattern of rhetorical expression used to create a parallel between the surface action and deeper, thematic message) and that his descriptions of the scene and atmosphere of the house is integral to that construction. My brochure extracts these significant, inalterable details and utilizes them to advertise the House of Usher.
Additionally, I was able to include three references to some of Poe’s other works within my brochure. The two “Customer Reviews” reference Ligeia and The Black Cat respectively, and the “Customer Service line” phone number is created from the title Annabell Lee.
Poe, Edgar Allen. The Fall of the House of Usher. The Norton Anthology of American Literature. Nina Baym, Robert S. Levine, Shorter Eighth Edition, W.W Norton & Company, 2013, New York, NY
Robinson, E. Arthur. “Order and Sentience in “The Fall of the House of Usher.” Publications of the Modern Language Association , vol. 76, no. 1, 1 Mar. 1981, pp. 68–81.