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karaejacobi eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Roderick Usher and his family house in Poe's "The Fall of the House of Usher" are similar because they are both decrepit and isolated; their fates also merge at the end of the story.

Roderick Usher is an old friend of the narrator of Poe's story, and at the start of the tale, Roderick has asked the narrator to come visit him at the Usher manor. As the narrator approaches, we are given a very detailed description of the house and its surroundings, which greatly adds to the ominous mood of the story. The house is described as "melancholy" and the narrator is immediately overcome with "a sense of insufferable gloom" as he observes the manor from a short distance. When the narrator enters the house and sees Roderick (for the first time in years), he is shocked by the man's appearance. When he first sees, Roderick, the narrator explains,

It was with difficulty that I could bring myself to admit the identity of the wan being before me with the companion of my early boyhood. Yet the character of his face had been at all times remarkable. A cadaverousness of complexion; an eye large, liquid, and luminous beyond comparison; lips somewhat thin and very pallid, but of a surpassingly beautiful curve...

Roderick is much changed, but beyond that, he is described as being characterized by his "cadaverousness" and "pallid" lips. Both of these details indicate that Roderick has a deathly countenance. He looks ills and even near death. In a similar way, the house itself stands out for its "unredeemed dreariness." Roderick's personality isn't much better. He is exceedingly nervous, paranoid, and superstitious. Much of his character can be attributed to the failing health of his sister and last living relative, Madeline. She has a strange illness: sometimes when she is asleep, she appears to be dead. This is an important detail because Roderick buries his sister alive at one point, as it seemed she was dead but was really in one of her fits. 

Much of the horror of the story is created by the mood set by these opening descriptions of the house and Roderick Usher himself. That horror is then followed through on by the supernatural events surrounding Madeline's "death" and (seeming, at first) "rebirth." Madeline emerges from the tube and moves toward her brother. Ultimately, Roderick and Madeline Usher die in each other's arms and their family house crumbles around and on top of them. Both of the "houses" have ended: the literal house in which the Usher family lives and has lived for generations, and the family line, "The House of Usher," die out at the end of the story. 

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

For Edgar Allan Poe's "The House of Usher," you will have more than enough for three paragraphs if you review the story, noting the parallels between the house and the family.  For an opening, you can certainly draw upon the double entendre of the title:  the house as the mansion and the house as the family [the narrator alludes to this in paragraph 3].  For, both the mansion and the family are of aristocratic stature, they have been around a long time, and they are both isolated and fast becoming victimized by their internal decay.

With these three conditions in which the family and the mansion are parallel, you can easily construct the body of your essay, locating supporting details in the narrative.  For instance, in the exposition of the story, the description of the "mansion of gloom" is much like that of one that follows of Madeline as the narrator shudders upon gazing at the

inverted images of the gray sedge, and the ghastly tree stems, and the vacant and eyelike windows

In fact, the atmosphere of the mansion seems connected with the underworld and with decay and disease (par.4)  Later in the narrative, the life of Roderick is, indeed, connected with the subterranean regions of the house and the decay and disease of his sister.

These parallels run throughout the narrative; you will have no difficulty if you return to the story and peruse with such parallels in mind.  As an aid to the actual writing of your essay, see the site below that has helpful points.

favoritethings eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One of the first adjectives the narrator uses to describe the House of Usher is "melancholy," and it seems fair to apply this descriptor to the house itself as well as Roderick. The narrator feels a sense of "insufferable gloom" permeate his spirit as he looks at the home, and it is unrelieved by any sense of the poetic. The house is "bleak," surrounded by "decayed trees," and it leaves him with such "an utter depression of soul" that he can only compare it to the effect of having taken opium.

Just as the house seems ill, and near death, so does Roderick Usher. His letter spoke of some "acute bodily illness—of a mental disorder which oppressed him." Just as his house feels utterly oppressive and dark, and doomed, so does its owner. Despite their time together as children, the narrator feels that he really knows "little of [his] friend"; thus, just as the house is somewhat of a mystery, so is the man.

Further, just as there is only one actual "house" of Usher—one physical home—there is also only one "house" of Usher in the more figurative sense. Because the family have been inbreeding for some time, there is only one Usher line without any offshoots or variation: there is just one "House of Usher" in terms of both physical home as well as family line.

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The Fall of the House of Usher

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