I need an analysis on "the Fall of the House of Usher", please!

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I am searching for both themes and motives in Poes "Fall of the House of Usher"! I can4t figure out a good motif in the story, except for "haunted houses" or "fear of being buried alive" or "madness" . . .

I would appreciate contributions for motives and themes in this story!

Thank you!

-- Anonymous, November 27, 1999


The very title of the story, "The Fall of the House of Usher" is ambiguous, seeing as both the mansion, and the family are known as the House of Usher--this however is clearly Poe's intent. The story opens by the house and its surrounding landscape being described as decaying and empty, much like Roderick and Madeline Usher (all three elements, Roderick, Madeline, and the Mansion, are somehow linked together). The physical state of Madeline Usher corresponds to the mental state of Roderick Usher. As Madeline's body dies, Roderick's mental illness worsens. In the end when Roderick see's Madeline (her arisal from the tomb is a mystery to me), his mind is lost forever--and the mansion crumbles.

-- Anonymous, December 19, 1999

Edgar Allen Poe often uses the motif of suffocation.

-- Anonymous, March 17, 2000

emotions can be distructive. fear is believed to have killed Roderick. If he would have overcame fear then the ending will be different.

-- Anonymous, March 28, 2000


I believe that Poe truly found some comfort in death. In many of his writings such as "The Cask of Amontillado", "The Fall of the House of Usher", etc. But, it is not only this. I think that all of his characters' reactions to his ghostly appiritions and haunted houses were full of terror which, I think, at this point in time, many people reacted towards the mentally ill in this time in history. "Lunatics", "Crazies", and the "insane" were not warmly welcomed anywhere. Because of this I think he knew what it was like to be feared and took advantage of it as he wrote his poems and short stories. Well... that is just my guess.

-- Anonymous, April 10, 2000

The house is the mind.. which is why the windows appear as "eyes." The narrator is visiting a place in his mind which he has neglected... the imagination. Without imagination, the mind can not exist. In the end, that part of the mind is destroyed... there by resulting in the ultimate destruction of the narrator, why in the end he too begins to fall to the madness. It is old because he has not destroyed, they were childhood pals because that is when the "normal" mind and imagination are most intertwined. A theme is that the mind can not survive without keeping the imagination alive, by forgetting it, madness is the result.

-- Anonymous, September 10, 2000

This is a Good story...not!

-- Anonymous, November 03, 2000

I believe the story revolves around the generations of inbreeding and incest. There are at least two references to this, and the story about Ethelred the narrator reads is full of symbolism. The personification of the house helps the reader to understand that as the family line degenerates, so does the house as it witnesses these events, until the moral horrors within cause the the house to literaly "fall" along with what is left of the Usher family. Also, look at the names...Usher= Us Her,Madeline= Mad Line, Roderick= Rod (literally means power). This is just the tip of the iceberg....cool, huh?

-- Anonymous, February 02, 2001

I have found the most interesting part of the story is Poe's fascination with women who come back to life. His own mother worked as an actress when he was a young boy (3 years old), and she often played Juliet who eventually dies on stage. Poe watched his mother finish the scene and then after the curtain came down, she got up and went to eat dinner. And of course Madeline is "dead" about halfway through the book, but in reality she is not. This theme is deep in Poe's writings. The personification of the house as the actual family is very interesting as it is completely destroyed when the two remaining Ushers die. Another great part of the story is the storm that begins and continues at the very end of the story. The storm occurs only over the House of Usher and symbolizes the internal destruction of the famiy and the house. All of this reflect Poe's life and struggles with family, women, and death.

-- Anonymous, August 01, 2002

Anders I just got finished doing a seminar on "The Fall of the House of Usher" for my Honors English class. For my group we used the theme of Sigmund Freud which is that Madeline, Usher, and the Narrator are symbolic of the 3 parts of the brainwhich is the Id (Madeline), the Ego(Usher)and Superego(Narrator). This was a pretty hard assignment but very interesting at the same time. Some other themes you could use are hynogogic(a word invented by Poe),conscience and unconscience,etc. Well I hope this helps! E-mail me if so!!

-- Anonymous, October 01, 2002

In my english class.. our teacher made us write notes about vampires.. before we read the story. As we read the story we had the thought of vamires in our head.. and as we read it the book made more sence.. right now im actually writing an essay trying to prove that madiline usher was a vampire.. hence why she came back to life.. and i beieve the Roderique turned her because he feard being alone.. and at the end when Roderique saw madiline he knew of her nhappiness. but then again dont know im juss writing it to shut my teacher up..

-- Anonymous, November 25, 2002

All of the answers are very good except that everyone has overlooked the fact that Roderick and Madeline were twins.And twins have an acute sense of what the other one is feeling.So i beleive that while Madeline was dying physically Roderick was dying mentally and the house falls because the legacy of the Ushers had died.

-- Anonymous, April 04, 2003

I find it amusing that I am responding to a question that is four years old, but here goes:

In response to the post directly above mine: Usher and his sister could not possibly have been identical twins: for more info on why that is not a feasible solution, go look up x and y chromosomes.

Certainly they could have been twins (which would account for the mental closeness but not necessarily the physical), but what is suggested by their strong resemblance to each other is centuries of incest. Note that at the begining of the story the narrator comments that in the entire history of the family, no new branches have been put out (ie. no-one has married outside of the family, and yet the family endures. The logical solution? They are keeping the sex to one line of genes.)

As for another comment that associated the physical state of Madeline with the emotional/mental state of Usher, while parallels are certainly there, I believe that this is another hint that points at incest: The blood has thinned, neither character is healthy. The difference is that the illnesses they face are different. For Usher, extreme acuteness of the senses, and for Madeline, the ultimate deadening of the senses. She was put in the grave, mistakenly taken for dead. (Another variation of this theme involves Usher putting her in her grave on purpose, as a way to stop the decay of family lines. He knows though, that once she is dead, there will be no more house of Usher. Quote:""[Madiline's] decease," he said, with a bitterness which I can never forget, "would leave [Usher] (him the hopeless and the frail) the last of the ancient race of the Ushers."" I find this latter suggestion weaker, unless Usher felt that her death was symbolic of his freedom from his own decay.

When Madiline emerges from the grave and essentially frightens Usher to death, The physical "house" of Usher, which has been associated with the actual FAMILY of Usher, collapses. The physical decay of the house parallels the physical decay of the Family. Certainly you could find symbolism in nature swallowing what is ugly (incest) in the public eye. A sort of malevolent justice system in nature?

-- Anonymous, April 06, 2003

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