Why does Poe go into such detail when describing the external features of the House of Usher? What symbolic implications do the details have, particularly the fissure that runs through the edifice?

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The details the narrator provides about the crumbling and decaying house foreshadow the fate of the crumbling and decaying Usher family; the "House" of Usher, then, refers to both the physical house itself as well as the Usher line. The narrator remarks specifically on the "barely perceptible fissure, which, extending from the roof of the building in front, made its way down the wall in a zigzag direction, until it became lost in the sullen waters of the tarn." In other words, a casual observer of the house would not necessarily detect the weakness in the house's structure.

Likewise, a casual observer of the family would not necessarily detect the figurative cracks or weaknesses in it, but a more detailed look reveals what will lead to its demise. Roderick Usher tells the narrator of a "constitutional and family evil," a strange malady for which there is no cure. "He suffered much from a morbid acuteness of the senses": in other words, the way he experiences textures, odors, and sights...

(The entire section contains 2 answers and 551 words.)

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