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The Fall of the House of Usher Summary

The narrator only glimpses her briefly on the day that he arrives and she does not interact with him at all. The narrator attempts to help Roderick recover his spirits, together they read, paint and play music. However, Roderick remains thoroughly miserable. During this time, he composes a song called " The Haunted Palace " which tells of a good king who becomes corrupted and whose beautiful castle falls into ruins.

The Fall of the House of Usher Summary

Madeline Usher dies. Her funeral is due to take place two weeks later. In the meantime, her body is placed in a coffin and taken to a vault below the house, directly underneath the narrator's bedroom. After his twin sister's death, Roderick's descent into madness appears to be complete. The narrator also begins to feel that the old house is having a negative effect on him too.

Madeline Usher after she escapes from her coffin, early 20th century illustration by Harry Clarke.! On a stormy night a week after Madeline's death, the narrator is unable to sleep and finally decides to get up and get dressed. Roderick enters the narrator's bedroom in an agitated state. The narrator attempts to calm him down by reading him a tale of chivalry, similar to those from Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur. The tale tells of a knight called Ethelred who uses his mace to break down a wooden door.

He finds a dragon behind it with a notice which says that whosoever kills the monster will become the rightful owner of a legendary shield. Ethelred uses his mace to strike off the dragon's head, causing it to give out a terrible scream. Ethelred drops the shield on a floor made of silver, causing a loud clang. As the narrator reads aloud, he feels that he can hear the distant sounds of a wooden door being broken down, a terrible scream and a metallic clang. Roderick admits that he can hear the noises too.

They are the sounds of Madeline escaping from her coffin and the vault. He reminds the narrator that his hearing has become heightened. He has known for days that Madeline was buried alive because he could hear her moving inside her coffin. He is certain that Madeline will come to take revenge on him for burying her before she was dead.


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He says that he can hear her approaching footsteps and is certain that she will soon break through the bedroom's doors. Sure enough, Madeline breaks through the doors. She attacks and kills Roderick but dies while she does so.

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Although the storm is still raging outside, the narrator runs away from the house. He looks back when he suddenly becomes aware of some light. He notices that the tarn surrounding the house seems to glow in the dark , as it glowed in Roderick Usher's paintings, although 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:.

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.

As his "best and only friend", [2] 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 is continually made to be the outsider.

Edgar Allan Poe

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 is gradually 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.

Roderick Usher is the twin of Madeline Usher and one of the last living Ushers. Usher writes to the narrator, his boyhood friend, about his illness.


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He is described by the narrator:. And now the increase in this strangeness of his face had caused so great a change that I almost did not know him. The horrible white of his skin, and the strange light in his eyes, surprised me and even made me afraid. His hair had been allowed to grow, and in its softness it did not fall around his face but seemed to lie upon the air.


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I could not, even with an effort, see in my friend the appearance of a simple human being. Roderick Usher is a recluse. In addition to his constant fear and trepidation, Madeline's catalepsy is also a cause of his decay. He is tormented by the sorrow of watching his sibling die. The narrator states: "He admitted [that] much of the peculiar gloom which thus affected him could be traced [to] the evidently approaching dissolution [of] his sole companion".

Thompson, he meticulously plans for her burial to prevent "resurrection men" from stealing his beloved sister's corpse for experimentation, as was common in the 18th and 19th centuries for medical schools and physicians in need of cadavers. As his twin, the two share an incommunicable connection that critics conclude may be either incestuous or metaphysical, [6] as two individuals in an extra-sensory relationship embodying a single entity. To that end, Roderick's deteriorating condition speeds up his own torment and eventual death.

His mental health deteriorates faster as he begins to hear Madeline's attempts to escape the underground vault she was buried in. Like with his sister, Roderick Usher is tied to the mansion.

The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe - Plot Summary

He believes the mansion is sentient and responsible, in part, for his deteriorating mental health and melancholy. Despite this admission, Usher remains in the mansion and composes art containing the Usher mansion or similar haunted mansions. Roderick falls to his death out of fear in a manner similar to the House of Usher's cracking and sinking.

She is deathly ill and cataleptic. She appears before the narrator, but never acknowledges his presence. She returns to her bedroom where Roderick claims she has died.