Edgar Allan Poe's "The Fall of the House of Usher""The Fall of the House of Usher," which first appeared in Burton's Gentleman's Magazine in September, 1839, and was reprinted in Poe's books of 1840 and 1845, is a detailed, symbolic account of the derangement and dissipation of an individual's personality.
- By Martha Womack
Martha Womack, better known to Internet users as Precisely Poe, has a BA degree in English from Longwood College in Virginia, and teaches English and Theatre Arts at Fuqua School in Farmville, Virginia. When Martha first began teaching American literature, she found so much conflicting information about Edgar Allan Poe that she became confused about what to teach her students. As she began to research the author's life and literature, Martha discovered that a horrible injustice had occurred, and she became determined, like many others, "to set the record straight." "This mission" has lead to ten years of research and the creation of her web site, Precisely Poe. Martha is proud and pleased to be a part of the Poe Decoder, a continual project to dispel the myth surrounding Poe, the man and his literature.
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Printed publishing rights retained by the author, copyright pending. Internet publishing rights granted by the author to Christoffer Nilsson for use exclusively in Qrisse's Poe Pages. Any for-profit use of this material is expressly forbidden. Educational users and researchers must use proper documentation procedures, crediting both the publisher, Christoffer Nilsson and the author, Martha Womack.
Summary of the storyRoderick and his twin sister Madeline are the last of the all time-honored "House of Usher." They are both suffering from rather strange illnesses which may be attributed to the intermarriage of the family. "...[T]he stem of the Usher race...had put forth, at no period, any enduring branch; in other words, that the entire family lay in the direct line of descent, and had always, with very trifling and very temporary variation, so lain."
Point of View
Style and Interpretation"The Fall of the House of Usher" illustrates Poe's critical doctrine that unity of effect depends on unity of tone. Every detail of this story, from the opening description of the dank tarn and the dark rooms of the house to the unearthly storm which accompanies Madeline's return from the tomb, helps to convey the terror that overwhelms and finally destroys the fragile mind of Roderick Usher.