The use of symbols in Northanger Abbey by Jane Austin and The fall of the house of usher by Edgar Allan Poe Symbolism

Theuse of symbols in NorthangerAbbeyby Jane Austin and Thefall of the house of usherby Edgar Allan Poe


Thereare a number of techniques, which authors use to ensure that theirmessages are passed to the readers or audiences in the right manner.One of these techniques is ensuring that the audience can relate wellto what the author is trying to say. In this case, techniques such assymbolism are used to offer a better understanding on the concepts:symbols are frequently used by writers to improve their writing andconvey meaning.

Useof Symbolism in NorthangerAbbeyand Thefall of the house of usher

Themain reason why writers make use of symbols in their literary worksis to make sure that the readers and audience understand the content.Symbols often give a literary work color and richness. This is thecase in NorthangerAbbeyby Jane Austin and Thefall of the houseofusherby Edgar Allan Poe. With the symbols, those things that are commonlyknown to the audience are used in order to create a clear image withwhat is being discussed. For instance, in NorthangerAbbey,Austen presents the “portraitof society in Bath,”while drawing the details from her personal experiences (Earnshaw,2014).

Evenso, besides the inclusion of a large portion of her experiences, thestory in NorthangerAbbeyis mainly drawn on the elements that are based on the fact that itreveals the images of gothic novels, which had been read by Austenbefore (Smith, 2012). For instance, it is shown with the use of the“oldbuildings that are almost crumbling in the gothic novels”(Austen, 2011). In addition, NorthangerAbbeysymbolizes an ideal that is imagined for Catherine. For instance, thefirst time she gets into the Alley, she starts to think of herself asone of the heroines in the gothic novels.

InThefall of the house of usherby Edgar Allan Poe, symbols are also used to bring the audiencecloser to the things that they know well. For instance, some of thecharacters in the story are the twins: Madeline and Roderick. Theyare portrayed as symbolic through their actions. This resonates wellwith the message that Poe tends to communicate. In essence, he talksabout “theduality of human nature.”(Poe, 2015) He also talks about the struggles that individuals haveto undergo between the dualism of the emotion and the body as well asthe rational or the mind within the individual.

Roderickis the symbol for the “innatemental capacity of the human being,”since he is the character that possesses a strong mind within a bodythat is weak and deteriorating (Wisker, 2016). Most of the time, heis engaged in the intellectual activities, as he takes part increating art, music, and reading. On the other hand, Madeline isentirely described in the form of her body, without the inclusion ofher mind: she is absent-minded. Gradually, as the story unfolds, shesymbolizes a person who is slowly wasting away. At the end of thestory, she becomes a dead body or a corpse.


Themost important aspect about literary works is ensuring that theycommunicate effectively to the audience. Normally, they make surethat the good things in society are upheld while the wrong things areshunned. As such, authors make use of several literary techniques.For instance, the use of symbols helps the audience to relate to thetext, as the happenings are brought closer with the use of items thatare readily present in the society.


Austen,J. (2011). NorthangerAbbey.New York: Wild Jot Press.

Earnshaw,S. (2014). Thehandbook of creative writing.Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Poe,A. E. (2015). TheFall of the House of Usher.New York: Booklassic.

Smith,A. L. (2012). Nineteenth-CenturyAmerican Gothic.A New Companion to the Gothic, 163-175.

Wisker,G. (2016). Behind locked doors: Angela Carter, horror and theinfluence of Edgar Allan Poe. In Re-visitingAngela Carter(pp. 178-198). Palgrave Macmillan UK.