What does the title "The Fall of the House of Usher" mean?

The title “The Fall of the House of Usher” has both a literal and a figurative meaning. The literal meaning refers to the physical collapse of the house in which the Ushers live. The figurative meaning refers to the decline of the Usher family.

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At the end of Edgar Allan Poe's "The Fall of the House of Usher ," eponymous house, in which the Usher family has lived for generations, dramatically collapses. This fall is the literal meaning of the story's title. But the story's title has another meaning, a metaphorical meaning,...

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At the end of Edgar Allan Poe's "The Fall of the House of Usher," eponymous house, in which the Usher family has lived for generations, dramatically collapses. This fall is the literal meaning of the story's title. But the story's title has another meaning, a metaphorical meaning, that is of equal or greater importance.

One can refer to a noble family as being a "house." This is an example of metonymy, a figure of speech in which one thing is understood in terms of another kind of thing due to association or proximity. Metonymy is related to metaphor, but the two figures of speech differ in the kinds of connection they trace. Put concretely, a family is not like a house; rather, a family lives in a house.

In “The Fall of the House of Usher,” readers encounter a noble family that has been in decline from its former glory for quite some time. In the dramatic deaths of Roderick and his sister Madeline, the family is entirely extinguished, because Roderick and Madeline are the last two members of the House of Usher. This fall is the figurative meaning of the title.

The deaths of the Usher siblings is also literal fall in that Roderick and Madeline collapse to the ground together. At this stage of the story, the literal and figurative meanings of the title coalesce, perfectly illustrating its multiple meaning.

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