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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What could the final fall of the house in "The Fall of the House of Usher" represent?

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The final fall of the House of Usher represents Roderick 's descent into outright madness. Up until now, we've been aware that Roderick's of a nervous disposition, to say the least. He's a rather odd, eccentric character who's clearly not in the best of psychological health. But one thing we...

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The final fall of the House of Usher represents Roderick's descent into outright madness. Up until now, we've been aware that Roderick's of a nervous disposition, to say the least. He's a rather odd, eccentric character who's clearly not in the best of psychological health. But one thing we couldn't say is that he was completely insane.

That, however, is precisely what he becomes at the end of the story when his dead sister Madeline comes back from the grave. As the House—the Usher family name as well as the actual building—collapses, so too does Roderick's tortured mind. His mind has been deteriorating for some time, but now it's gone completely, pushed to breaking point by the eerie vision of the risen Madeline.

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The double entendre of the title is repeated at the end of Poe's "The Fall of the House of Usher." That is, the close parallels of the family and the mansion end in phantasmorgia as "the full, setting, and blood-red moon now shines through the fissure of the house". This eerie glow of dying life symbolizes the tragic flaw of the Usher lineage.

Roderick Usher dies of fright when Madeline falls upon him in the throes of death.  The narrator flees in terror at the destruction of both the mansion and the genetic lines of the Ushers. Madeline, Usher's identical twin, comes to claim him; perhaps she represents a part of Roderick's mind that he has tried to suppress, some dark urge or family secret. Certainly, the lasting image of the "blood-red moon" and the collapse of the Usher mansion--

a long tumultous shouting sound like the voice of a thousand waters--

as it is swallowed by the mountain lake suggest the tragic end of the Usher family, a family plagued by disturbances of the mind, "fissures" of rational thought. 

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