The Fall of the House of Usher Lesson Plans
by Edgar Allan Poe

The Fall of the House of Usher book cover
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The Fall of the House of Usher Allusion Activity

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Excerpt From This Document

This activity gives students an opportunity to practice identifying and analyzing allusions. Allusions broaden the scope of a text and imbue passages with deeper meaning by subtly drawing on unexplained references to literature, history, science, geography, philosophy, mythology, or other aspects of a culture. Allusions are thus a powerful tool often employed by writers and are well worth understanding. In completing this activity, students will be able to identify, analyze, and interpret allusions, thereby accessing deeper meanings within the text.

Edgar Allan Poe’s 1839 story “The Fall of the House of Usher” tells the story of a deteriorating aristocratic family. The narrator visits Roderick and Madeline Usher, the last descendants of the Usher line. The Usher siblings appear to be physically and mentally unstable, and the Usher manor itself appears to be decaying rapidly. Using a rich range of allusions, Poe crafts a chilling, gothic story that descends into sheer psychological dread.

Skills: analysis, close reading, drawing inferences from text, interpreting implications of allusions

Learning Objectives:
In completing this activity, students will

  • identify different types of allusions and locate examples of allusion within a text;
  • analyze examples of allusions to determine their purpose in the context of a passage of text;
  • analyze examples of allusions to interpret their meaning and determine how they inform a passage of text.

About this Document

Our eNotes Classroom Activities give students opportunities to practice developing a variety of skills. Whether analyzing literary devices or interpreting connotative language, students will work directly with the text. The main components of our classroom activities include the following:

  • A handout defining the literary elements under discussion, complete with examples
  • A step-by-step guide to activity procedure
  • An answer key or selected examples for reference, depending on the activity

In completing these classroom activities, students will be able to classify and analyze different literary elements, thereby developing close-reading skills and drawing deeper inferences from the text.