How does the house in Edgar Allan Poe's "The Fall of the House of Usher" represent the life of its owners? How does the life and death of the house and person parallel each other?

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The "house" in "House of Usher" refers both to the physical house in which Roderick and Madeline live and their family name. And the two are closely interlinked to the extent that they fall and rise together. So long as the physical structure of the building's still standing, all is...

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The "house" in "House of Usher" refers both to the physical house in which Roderick and Madeline live and their family name. And the two are closely interlinked to the extent that they fall and rise together. So long as the physical structure of the building's still standing, all is well and good. But the moment the walls start to crack, then it's game over for this unusual family.

It's as if the larger-than-life Ushers simply cannot escape the confines of their home, except through madness and/or death. The house/physical dwelling-place represents matter, whereas the Ushers themselves are the spirit of the place, trapped inside what's become little more than a prison. This radical disjuncture between the house and the Ushers—between matter and spirit, body and soul—cannot ultimately be reconciled. Something's got to give. But as the respective fortunes of the house and its inhabitants are so indissolubly linked, both are destined to fall together. Ultimately, there will be no earthly escape for the tortured Usher souls from their imprisonment.

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The relationship between the physical house and the family is first made obvious by the title, in that "the house of Usher" as a phrase can refer either to a physical house or a family (cf. House of Lancaster, House of York).

A significant literary devices used in the tale is the "pathetic fallacy" in which the outward state of nature (and in this case the house as well) reflect the inner condition of one or more characters. As the characters fall apart physically and emotionally, their physical house deteriorates.

 The physical house, as brother and sister, make the narrator uncomfortable and have a gloomy air to them. The house becomes more menacing throughout the story, with the sensitivity of Roderick to sound complemented by the increasing volume of mysterious noises from the house. The sister's breakout from the tomb disturbs the physical structure of the house. When both Usher siblings die, and the narrator leaves, the house splits ion two and is destroyed.

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