The Fall of the House of Usher Study Guide
The Fall of the House of Usher: Themes
The Fall of the House of Usher: Characters
The Fall of the House of Usher: Analysis
The Fall of the House of Usher: Critical Essays
The Fall of the House of Usher: Multiple-Choice Quizzes
The Fall of the House of Usher: Questions & Answers
The Fall of the House of Usher: Introduction
The Fall of the House of Usher: Biography of Edgar Allan Poe
Introduction to The Fall of the House of Usher
Edgar Allan Poe’s short story “The Fall of the House of Usher” was originally published in September 1839. In the tale, the narrator visits a childhood friend who is sick and in need of company. The friend’s house is old and decrepit, and it seems to cause the madness of the last surviving Usher siblings, Roderick and Madeline. When Madeline succumbs to an illness, she is buried in a house vault, only to return after a premature burial. Madeline emerges from the vault the night of an intense storm and collapses on her brother in death. The narrator flees the house and looks back to see it sink into a swamp. Rather than imparting a specific lesson, Poe's story explores gothic elements of the supernatural and evil to convey a tale of horror.
A Brief Biography of Edgar Allan Poe
Edgar Allan Poe (1809–1849) was an American writer who gained fame for his gothic tales. Poe’s life story makes it easy to see where the author got his ideas and how his work relates to his experience. First, his father abandoned the family; then his mother died when he was very young, and his foster father, John Allen, erratically swung between lenience and extreme discipline; finally, Poe married his much younger cousin Virginia, who died at an early age. It’s no wonder, then, that Poe's work focused on the macabre, the bizarre, and the outcast—the wonder is that he found a way to make such striking art from his suffering. Before his death at age forty, Edgar Allan Poe raised the American short story to a new level, writing works that completely modernized detective fiction, science fiction, and, of course, the horror story. His most well-known works include the poems “The Raven” and “Annabel Lee”; the short stories ”The Black Cat,” “The Cask of Amontillado,” “The Tell-Tale Heart,” and “The Fall of the House of Usher”; and the novel The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket.