and post notes and photos about your poem like Robert Lindley.
The Fall of the House of Usher
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For other uses, see The Fall of the House of Usher (disambiguation).
"The Fall of the House of Usher"
First appearance in Burton's Gentleman's Magazine (September 1839)
Author Edgar Allan Poe
Country United States
Genre(s) Horror, Gothic, Detective Fiction
Published in Burton's Gentleman's Magazine
Publication date September 1839
"The Fall of the House of Usher" is a short story by American writer Edgar Allan Poe, first published in 1839 in Burton's Gentleman's Magazine, then included in the collection Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque in 1840. The short story, a work of Gothic fiction, includes themes of madness, family, isolation, and metaphysical identities.
2 Character descriptions
2.2 Roderick Usher
2.3 Madeline Usher
3 Publication history
4 Sources of inspiration
5.1 Allusions and references
6 Literary significance and criticism
7 In other media
9 Further reading
10 External links
The story begins with the unnamed narrator arriving at the house of his friend, Roderick Usher, having received a letter from him in a distant part of the country complaining of an illness and asking for his help. As he arrives, the narrator notes a thin crack extending from the roof, down the front of the building and into the adjacent lake.
It is revealed that Roderick's twin sister, Madeline, is also ill and falls into cataleptic, deathlike trances. Roderick and Madeline are the only remaining members of the Usher family.
The narrator is impressed with Roderick's paintings and attempts to cheer him by reading with him and listening to his improvised musical compositions on the guitar. Roderick sings "The Haunted Palace", then tells the narrator that he believes the house he lives in to be alive, and that this sentience arises from the arrangement of the masonry and vegetation surrounding it. Further, Roderick believes that his fate is connected to the family mansion.
Roderick later informs the narrator that his sister has died and insists that she be entombed for two weeks in the family tomb located in the house before being permanently buried. The narrator helps Roderick put the body in the tomb, and notes that Madeline has rosy cheeks, as some do after death. They inter her, but over the next week both Roderick and the narrator find themselves becoming increasingly agitated for no apparent reason. A storm begins. Roderick comes to the narrator's bedroom, which is situated directly above the vault, and throws open his window to the storm. He notices that the tarn surrounding the house seems to glow in the dark as it glowed in Roderick Usher's paintings, but there is no lightning.
The narrator attempts to calm Roderick by reading aloud The Mad Trist, a novel involving a knight named Ethelred who breaks into a hermit's dwelling in an attempt to escape an approaching storm, only to find a palace of gold guarded by a dragon. He also finds, hanging on the wall, a shield of shining brass on which is written a legend:
Who entereth herein, a conqueror hath bin;
Who slayeth the dragon, the shield he shall win;
With a stroke of his mace, Ethelred kills the dragon, who dies with a piercing shriek, and proceeds to take the shield, which falls to the floor with an unnerving clatter.
As the narrator reads of the knight's forcible entry into the dwelling, cracking and ripping sounds are heard somewhere in the house. When the dragon is described as shrieking as it dies, a shriek is heard, again within the house. As he relates the shield falling from off the wall, a reverberation, metallic and hollow, can be heard. Roderick becomes increasingly hysterical, and eventually exclaims that these sounds are being made by his sister, who was in fact alive when she was entombed.
Additionally, Roderick somehow knew that she was alive. The bedroom door is then blown open to reveal Madeline standing there. She falls on her brother and both land on the floor as corpses. The narrator then flees the house, and, as he does so, notices a flash of moonlight behind him which causes him to turn back, in time to see the moon shining through the suddenly widened crack. As he watches, the House of Usher splits in two and the fragments sink into the tarn.
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In "The Fall of the House of Usher", Poe's unnamed narrator is called to visit the House of Usher by Roderick Usher. As his "best and only friend", Roderick tells of his illness and asks that he visit. He is persuaded by Roderick's desperation for companionship. Though sympathetic and helpful, the narrator continually is made to be an outsider. From his perspective, the cautionary tale unfolds. The narrator also exists as Roderick's audience as the men are not very well-acquainted, and Roderick is convinced of his impending demise. The narrator gradually is drawn into Roderick's belief after being brought forth to witness the horrors and hauntings of the House of Usher.
From his arrival, he notes the family's isolationist tendencies as well as the cryptic and special connection between Madeline and Roderick. Throughout the tale and her varying states of consciousness, Madeline ignores the Narrator's presence. After Roderick Usher claims that Madeline has died, he helps Usher place her in the underground vault despite noticing Madeline's flushed appearance.
During one sleepless night, the Narrator reads aloud to Usher as sounds are heard throughout the mansion. He witnesses Madeline's reemergence and the subsequent death of the twins, Madeline and Roderick. The narrator is the only character to escape the House of Usher, which he views as it cracks and sinks into the tarn or mountain lake.