illustration of a dark, menacing cracked house with large, red eyes looking through the windows

The Fall of the House of Usher

by Edgar Allan Poe

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In "The Fall of the House of Usher," does the narrator succeed in his purpose of visiting Usher?

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The narrator does not succeed at all in his purpose in visiting Usher. He goes there with the intention of trying to bring Roderick Usher out of the severe depression into which he has fallen. Roderick, a boyhood friend of his, implored him in a letter to come and help him. Instead, what happens is that the narrator is unnerved by Roderick's unceasing air of melancholy, the strange cataleptic condition of Roderick's sister Madeleine, and the generally morbid atmosphere which permeates the entire house. After Madeleine dies and is interred, Roderick grows even more miserable. The narrator admits that being constantly in Roderick's company takes its toll:

It was no wonder that his condition terrified - that it infected me. I felt it creeping upon me, by slow yet certain degrees, the wild influences of his fantastic yet impressive superstitions.

The narrator, then, is increasingly and adversely affected by Roderick's behaviour, and by his fanciful ideas and 'superstitions'.

However, the narrator does manage to escape from the house of fear and gloom. After the wild re-appearance of the supposedly dead Madeleine and death of Roderick in a paroxysm of terror, he simply flees the place, looking back once to witness the strange spectacle of the House of Usher literally collapsing and thus mirroring the destruction of its inhabitants.

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