Satirizing the Gothic Text and Its Reader by Doubling and Redoubling in Poe's “The Fall of the House of Usher”
This paper examines Poe's satiric approach to the reader's preconception of Gothicism and the gothic writing. Using The Fall of the House of the Usher as the exemplary story that employs Poe's subtlety in treating the gothic, I argue that Poe's tale is a satire on the reading of the gothic as well as the gothic text itself. Employing Peter Rabinowitz's concept of narrative audience and authorial audience, the two types of position that the reader takes on simultaneously, I examine how the narrative audience of Poe's story becomes slowly immersed into the storyworld and the narrator's deranged mind while the authorial audience is aware of fictionality of the story. The gap between the narrative audience and the authorial audience continues to widen as the narrator invites the reader into Usher's house, reaching its peak as the reader fully identifies with the narrator. But it suddenly shrinks as the reader realizes, through the narrator's ridiculous gothic reading of The Mad Trist, that he has been hoaxed by Poe's playful manipulation of the reader. By making the reader the double of the narrator, Poe playfully taunts the reader's expectation of the gothic and the gothic reading.
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