Victorine’s Death In ‘The Fall Of The House Of Usher’: What Happens In ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’ Short Story?


Most of the characters in The Fall of the House of Usher were devoid of any conscience, and they did whatever they liked without caring about the repercussions their actions could have on others. But Victorine LaFourcade wasn’t like her other siblings, and her dilemma was in itself a proof of the fact that she had a convoluted inner core; she did think about others, and she did have a conscience, which was probably buried deep inside all that greed and want. We don’t know if we should consider Victorine more evil as compared to her siblings or not, because, unlike others, she constantly knew that what she was doing was wrong. If Perry and Leo were beyond contempt, then Victorine could be said to be a more lethal monster whose goals, if realized, could have destroyed hundreds of lives. So, let’s find out what conflicts Victorine faced in her life, why it was so important for her to create that technology, and what she wanted to prove through it.

Spoiler Alert

What was Victorine trying to achieve?

Victorine’s family money had come at a time for Dr. Ruiz when she most needed it. Dr. Ruiz might have been an exceptional surgeon, but the will to achieve something great in life was more in Victorine. Together, they were trying to create a technology that, in broad strokes, kept your heart healthy. It was something along the lines of a pacemaker, though it was much more advanced than that. The “heart device” was supposed to be a passive implant, predominantly, and its function was to gather data about an individual’s heart in real-time and also from the entire vascular system. Victorine believed that one day, her device would take complete control over a person’s system, where their heart would function properly even if they were under stress, anxiety, or any other issue that generally has an impact on the entire cardiovascular system. Treachery and fraud ran deep in the blood of the Ushers, and Victorine was no less than them.

Victorine wanted to achieve greatness, and she didn’t want to disappoint her father. The testing that was being done on the chimpanzees had failed, yet Victorine made sure that nobody came to know about it. She went to the extent of disposing of the dead bodies of the chimpanzees and bringing in new ones, while making incisions in them so that they looked identical. Victorine knew even back then that she was wrong in what she was doing, but those were animals, and she knew they couldn’t speak, so her corrupt behavior would never come to light. The tragedy is that we can’t even say that whatever Victorine was doing doesn’t happen in real life. We got uncomfortable when we saw the plight of those innocent animals trapped in cages, but that is how the world works, and probably, even if the authorities had come to know about it in the Fall of the House of the Ushers, they wouldn’t have taken any action as it was one of the most influential and powerful families we were talking about, and with wealth comes the unjust liberty to be cruel and barbaric.

Why did Victorine commit suicide?

Victorine had decided to proceed with human trials, and she had found a docile-looking woman already struggling with many ailments, as the perfect prey. Victorine didn’t know that the woman was Verna, a personification of death (or devil), who was just seeing if, till the end, Victorine’s conscience prevailed or if she let her greed to be successful and famous overpower everything else. Before Verna unleashed her real face, Victorine already had a confrontation with Doctor Alessandra Ruiz when the latter learned that Victorine had made fake documents suggesting that the animal trials were a success. Dr. Ruiz told her that she didn’t want to be a part of it, and Victorine was not in a frame of mind to take her refusal in a good spirit.

Victorine, at the end of The Fall of the House of Usher episode 5 (titled The Tell-Tale Heart), killed herself in front of her father, Roderick Usher, after she realized that she had killed her partner and colleague Dr. Ruiz and installed her device in her heart. We said in the beginning that Victorine had a conscience, and probably that was why she was the only person in the entire clan who took her own life. All this while, Victorine had been able to suppress all that guilt that arose from that minuscule amount of righteousness that was hidden inside her. In the end, she lost her mind, and all the suppressed guilt and remorse erupted, and she stabbed herself to death. Verna had asked her if her desire to become famous superseded her desire to save lives through her noble profession, and Victorine’s silence at that moment and the dilemma said everything. Apart from the fact that she wanted to create a legacy for herself in the medical field, Victorine wanted to appease her father, and probably, had he not been pushing her, she wouldn’t have gone to such extreme lengths.

Thematic Similarity between Victorine and ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’

The protagonist in Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart” goes through a similar kind of unsettling experience that Victorine does. It is a very disturbing short story in which the protagonist is told by the world that he is losing his mind, and in his defense, he gives reasons why he feels that he is totally sane. He had killed an old man after visiting him for eight consecutive nights and just standing and observing without him knowing. The protagonist says that he didn’t have any sort of vendetta against the old man and probably loved him too, but still, his vulture eyes stirred certain negative thoughts inside him. The protagonist killed the old man, but he couldn’t stop the noise of his heartbeat, and it drove him insane. The protagonist, in his defense, says that had he been insane, he wouldn’t have been able to plan such a murder. The irony was that while trying to give proof of his sanity, the protagonist made sure that we realized that he had completely lost control of his mind.

Victorine, in The Fall of the House of Usher, had killed her partner and colleague, Dr. Ruiz, just like the protagonist in Poe’s short story, and after that, she started losing her mind, and all she could hear was the deafening and trepid noise of a heart pounding. Victorine had completely lost her mind, and she took her life in front of her father, showing him how her technology worked and how she had been able to accomplish what she had set out for. That pounding sound of the heart symbolizes guilt, and no matter how much Victorine tried, she couldn’t escape it. Victorine’s delusions had been broken, and she just couldn’t accept the fact that she was not a savior but a monster, just like any other Usher. Poe’s protagonist never committed suicide, though he accepted that he had murdered the old man, probably because he would have thought that acceptance could relieve him from the torture, but the heart never stopped beating, and in both cases, the ghost of one’s sins never stopped following them. Ultimately, Victorine’s quest to achieve greatness took her to an extremely dark palace from where the only way through which she could escape was by embracing death.

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Sushrut Gopesh
Sushrut Gopesh
I came to Mumbai to bring characters to life. I like to dwell in the cinematic world and ponder over philosophical thoughts. I believe in the kind of cinema that not necessarily makes you laugh or cry but moves something inside you.

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