The Fall of the House of Usher Questions and Answers
by Edgar Allan Poe

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What's ironic in "The Fall of the House of Usher"?

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Critic G. R. Thomson is widely quoted for having called "Usher" a "masterpiece of dramatic irony." Dramatic irony means that the audience is more aware of what will happen in a story than some of the characters themselves. For example, in Macbeth, we as the audience know that Macbeth will murder Duncan because we witness the scene where he agrees to do so, but Duncan himself arrives at the castle trusting Macbeth and blithely unaware of his fate. In "Usher," the irony is not as clear-cut as in Shakespeare, bleeding as it does into foreshadowing, but it still exists.

Roderick lives in a state of terror, in dread of the future, to such an extreme degree that he is physically and mentally debilitated. His nerves are endlessly on edge. It's not hard for the reader to understand that a person living in such an unstable condition is, ironically, almost certain to bring on himself through his stress the very state of abandoning "life...

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