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Edgar Allen Poes 1839 short story The Fall of the House of Usher is unique in that it seems to lack a tangible antagonistic force that is the staple of most horror stories The story relies heavily on Rodericks peculiar illness and the dreariness and mysterious supernatural effect of the house and its surroundings in order to build a sense of fear Those happen to all be key elements of American Gothic which work especially well in the realm of literature However screenwriter Richard Matheson felt that his 1960 film adaption House of Usher needed to include an obvious villain a monster of sorts in which the audience could clearly identify and draw excitement and suspense from In the film adaption by possessing a much more diminished state of physical structure as well as tangible supernatural abilities the house itself is portrayed as the monster of the story The following essay will discuss specific examples of the houses unsound structural condition and unique gifts of intelligent manipulation and how those elements contrast with its relatively understated role in the short storyA scene begins at the 1335 mark in the film in which Phillip Winthrop Mark Damon has his first realization of the decrepit physical state of the mansion While dressing for dinner Phillip notices a rather violent tremor reminiscent of an earthquake accompanied with a loud rumbling noise Upon further investigation Phillip finds the culprit outside his bed room window there exists a large fissure working its way up the entire side of the mansion The tremors continue as Phillip makes his way down the corridor and descends the stairwell Upon reaching the bottom floor a large cast-iron chandelier subsequently shakes loose from the ceiling falling and nearly striking Phillip It is here that we start to see the trend of dangerous circumstances caused by the lack of structural integrity of the mansion In fact it is only nine minutes later that a bannister breaks
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