What disease does Madeline Usher have?

In "The Fall of the House of Usher," the disease that Madeline Usher suffers from is a mysterious illness related to catalepsy for which there is no definite diagnosis. Her body has been gradually "wasting away," and her overall demeanor has become apathetic.

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"The Fall of the House of Usher" centers on an unnamed narrator who goes to visit his friend Roderick Usher in his mysterious and gloomy home. Upon arrival, the narrator discovers that both Roderick and his sister, Madeline , suffer from an "acute bodily illness" which causes an...

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"The Fall of the House of Usher" centers on an unnamed narrator who goes to visit his friend Roderick Usher in his mysterious and gloomy home. Upon arrival, the narrator discovers that both Roderick and his sister, Madeline, suffer from an "acute bodily illness" which causes an "acuteness of the senses" and affects the patient's mind, motoric capabilities, behavior, and even appearance. The disease baffles the twins' physicians.

It is believed that Madeline might soon die, and several physicians agree that her disease is at least connected to catalepsy—a medical condition which causes seizures, muscle rigidity, and inability to react to external stimuli:

The disease of the lady Madeline had long baffled the skill of her physicians. A settled apathy, a gradual wasting away of the person, and frequent although transient affections of a partially cataleptical character, were the unusual diagnosis.

Madeline does appear to die, though it could be interpreted that she simply enters into a state of coma as a result of her disease. Nonetheless, Roderick decides to bury her, not knowing that she is actually alive. When Madeline wakes up, she forces her way out of her coffin, scaring the narrator and her brother. Madeline then falls upon Roderick, and the two siblings crash to the floor, dying instantly. Horrified, the narrator flees the house. As he leaves, he sees the house collapsing behind him, symbolizing both the physical and metaphorical fall of the House of Usher.

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