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What happens in The Fall of the House of Usher?

Edgar Allan Poe is a master of the macabre, and his short story “The Fall of the House of Usher” is no exception. The story is a hauntingly atmospheric tale of madness and destruction, told with Poe’s signature gothic style. In this post, we’ll be exploring the story and delving into what happens in “The Fall of the House of Usher.”

The Setting

The story takes place at the isolated mansion of the Usher family, which is located in a desolate and foreboding landscape. The house itself is described as “dull, dark, and soundless,” and it seems to mirror the declining mental and physical state of the Usher family. The narrator, who is a childhood friend of Roderick Usher, the last surviving member of the family, arrives at the mansion to visit his friend and is immediately struck by the sinister atmosphere of the house.

The Characters

The two main characters in the story are Roderick Usher and his sister Madeline. Roderick is described as a “cadaverous” and “hypersensitive” man who is suffering from a mysterious illness. He is terrified by the sound of the wind, the sight of the trees, and even the touch of the narrator. Madeline, on the other hand, is bedridden and seems to be in a catatonic state. The narrator learns that the Usher family has a history of madness and that Roderick fears that he and his sister are both suffering from a family curse.

The Unraveling

As the story progresses, the narrator becomes increasingly disturbed by the strange occurrences in the house. He hears strange noises, witnesses supernatural events, and is haunted by the pervasive sense of doom that seems to emanate from the mansion. Eventually, Roderick reveals to the narrator that he believes his sister is dead and that he has placed her body in a coffin in the family crypt.

However, the story takes a dark turn when Madeline suddenly appears, apparently risen from the dead, and attacks her brother. The narrator tries unsuccessfully to intervene, as Madeline falls onto her brother and they both collapse to the ground.

The Falling of the House of Usher

In a final, chilling scene, the narrator watches as the house splits in two and collapses into a nearby lake. The Usher family is no more, and the mysterious curse that seemed to haunt the family has finally been realized.


“The Fall of the House of Usher” is a haunting story that explores the themes of madness, fear, and the power of the supernatural. Poe’s vivid descriptions of the setting and characters create a palpable sense of dread that builds to a shattering conclusion. This tale of family curses and impending doom is a classic example of Poe’s iconic style and a must-read for any fan of horror literature.

If you’re interested in reading “The Fall of the House of Usher” for yourself, you can find it online on several websites, including


Why did Roderick bury Madeline alive?

In Edgar Allan Poe’s short story “The Fall of the House of Usher,” Roderick Usher’s decision to bury his sister Madeline while still alive may seem disturbing and inexplicable to many readers. However, a closer analysis of the story’s themes and characters reveals the complex inner conflicts that drive Roderick’s actions.

To begin with, it is important to note that Roderick and Madeline Usher are not just ordinary siblings but also twins who share a deep psychic connection. Throughout the story, the narrator emphasizes how similar the two siblings look and behave, almost like mirror images of each other. This similarity, however, is not just physical but also extends to their mental and emotional states. Both Roderick and Madeline suffer from a mysterious ailment that seems to stem from their family’s cursed lineage, which has caused them to be hypersensitive to all external stimuli. As Roderick explains to the narrator, “all impressions [upon us] are…dragged by [our] nerves to [our] soul.”

This extreme sensitivity has made Roderick and Madeline extremely dependent on each other for emotional support and psychological stability. They have grown up in isolation, cut off from the rest of the world, and this has only intensified their sense of loneliness and despair. As a result, their bond has become almost incestuous, and their identities have become fused together, making it difficult to tell where one sibling ends and the other begins.

It is in this context that Roderick decides to bury Madeline alive. As the narrator witnesses, Madeline appears to have died and is lying in a coffin, but Roderick insists that he wants to keep her body in the family vault located in the basement of the Usher mansion. This request might seem unusual, but it is not entirely unexpected given the siblings’ unique relationship. Roderick is afraid of being alone, and he cannot bear the thought of losing Madeline, who is essentially a part of him. Therefore, he wants to keep her close, both literally and metaphorically, even after death.

However, as the story progresses, it becomes clear that Madeline is not really dead but has instead fallen into a cataleptic state, a trance-like condition that makes her appear lifeless. This discovery leads to the story’s climactic scene, where Madeline breaks out of her coffin and confronts Roderick before both siblings die in the collapse of the house.

Roderick Usher’s decision to bury Madeline while she is still alive is a product of his deep-seated anxieties, his desire for emotional and psychological stability, and his sense of isolation and loneliness. While his actions might seem outrageous and cruel, they are also a poignant reflection of the extreme emotional states that Poe’s characters are often trapped in. “The Fall of the House of Usher” is a powerful critique of the human condition, showing how our fears, desires, and obsessions can drive us to the brink of madness and self-destruction.

What was Roderick Usher’s illness?

Roderick Usher, the main character in Edgar Allan Poe’s short story “The Fall of the House of Usher”, is portrayed as having a multitude of psychological issues. At times, he seems anxious and paranoid, while at others he appears trapped in a world of his own making. As such, it is difficult to pinpoint one specific illness that Roderick Usher is suffering from.

One possible explanation for his mental struggles is that he has a form of schizophrenia, which is characterized by a loss of touch with reality. Symptoms of schizophrenia include hallucinations, delusions, and disturbed thinking. These descriptions match some of the behavior exhibited by Usher in the story. For instance, he is prone to seeing and hearing things that aren’t there, such as the sounds of footsteps in the hallway. He also exhibits delusional thinking, particularly when it comes to the supposed “curse” on his family.

Another possibility is that Roderick Usher has multiple personality disorder, also known as dissociative identity disorder. This disorder is characterized by the presence of two or more distinct personalities within an individual. Although this disorder is rare, some of the symptoms experienced by Usher in the story, such as his drastic mood swings and changes in personality, could be indicative of multiple personality disorder.

It is also worth noting that Usher is described as a hypochondriac, someone who is overly concerned with their health and prone to thinking that they have various illnesses or diseases. This suggests that Usher’s mental health struggles could be rooted in his anxiety and paranoia, rather than a more specific mental disorder.

Finally, Usher’s belief that his family’s long history of inbreeding has caused a genetic condition is another possible explanation for his mental health struggles. If he believes that he is genetically predisposed to certain conditions, it could contribute to his anxiety and paranoia.

While it is impossible to say with certainty what specific illness Roderick Usher is suffering from, there are several possibilities based on his behavior and the symptoms he exhibits in the story. His mental health struggles are an important element of the story, contributing to the overall atmosphere of darkness and despair.