The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe

The Fall of the House of Usher book cover
Start Your Free Trial

Explain the unusual aspects of "The Fall of the House of Usher" that make it stylistically so different from Poe's other stories—fascinating fans and scholars. 

Expert Answers info

booboosmoosh eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2003

write4,119 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

To understand what so sets Poe's "The Fall of the House of Usher" apart from other works of the time, we should consider the kind of literature that was popular then.

At a time when most popular literature was highly moralistic, Poe's stories were concerned only with creating emotional effects. 

Poe felt that most writers concentrated on making "religious or political statements," but sacrificed the integrity of the writing in doing so. Poe wasn't interested in preaching or conveying a theme. He entertained his readers. The emotional response he garnered was not based on high intrigue or a devastating love affair gone wrong. He focused on stories that evoked fear, terror and confusion: for his characters were often insane—

[Poe wrote] tales of terror, in which he often depicted the psychological disintegration of unstable or emotionally overwrought characters...

Poe was not acknowledged by his peers for his divergent literary path. However, the short story became an acceptable literary form. Poe's artistry is clear in his ability to tell a complete story with "horrific" results in so few pages.

"The Fall of the House of Usher" has hallmark elements of Poe's work: the hint of insanity, obsession, gloom, premonitions of evil— and the foreshadowing of disaster (which is complete as the house seems to destroy itself at the end). However, one aspect of this story that I believe stands out from the rest—which reflects a popular fear of Poe's time—is the fear of being buried alive. Because medical science had not advanced far enough to detect the subtle presence of life, it was not unusual that someone had been buried before death:

One of Edgar Allan Poe 's horror stories, "The Premature Burial", is about...

(The entire section contains 563 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

check Approved by eNotes Editorial