illustration of a dark, menacing cracked house with large, red eyes looking through the windows

The Fall of the House of Usher

by Edgar Allan Poe

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Who is the narrator in "The Fall of the House of Usher"?

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The narrator of the The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allen Poe is an unnamed character who visits the house after his childhood friend, Roderick Usher, sends a letter asking for the narrator's assistance, as Roderick is feeling physically and emotionally ill. The narrator responds to his friend's request for help and visits the house which he finds to be of a dark and evil atmosphere. However, the narrator is not prone to believing in the supernatural and attempts to rationally explain the evil presence that permeates the very walls of the house. As the story progresses, however, the narrator begins to lose his sanity and sense of grounding as tragedy befalls the house with the death of Roderick Usher's twin sister and Roderick's subsequent death. The narrator escapes as the house crumbles to pieces. The narrator's back story and personality is not very developed. His vagueness of character could be correlated to how his character represents reason, which is unable to prevail, in a house that is figuratively and literally crumbling around him.

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"The Fall of the House of Usher" is told from the point of view of the unnamed narrator, who, being skeptical and rational, doesn't want to believe that there are supernatural causes to what is happening around him. Although he tries to tell the reader that Roderick's anxiety and nervousness are simply symptoms of the latter's mental anguish, the narrator, and therefore the reader, becomes increasingly disturbed as the story progresses. By telling the story from the point of view of a skeptic rather than a believer, Poe increases the suspense as well as the emotional impact of the story's ending.

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How is the narrator portrayed in "The Fall of the House of Usher"?

The unnamed narrator is portrayed as an average person, an "everyman," who arrives in a very strange place. We learn he is going to visit an old school friend he has not seen for many years. This lack of closeness with his host distances him from the start from the situation he is about to witness. We therefore understand that he is reporting on events as an objective outsider. He has never been to the house of Usher before and is not intimate with the family outside of knowing Roderick from his school days.

The narrator's status as an ordinary person and an outsider to the Usher family offers him a good vantage point for describing a bizarre setting and strange events. Because he finds the bleak, melancholy landscape and the eery house unsettling, we do too. We trust what he relates because he comes across as such a steady, commonsensical person.

If we had the story, say, from Roderick's point of view, we might think his descriptions of the house and the events that unfold are hallucinatory or the unreliable product of an unstable mind. The narrator, however, seems so stable and solid that we do not doubt his account, uncanny as the events he experiences are.

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In "The Fall of the House of Usher," who is the narrator of the story and why is he visiting the house?

The narrator of "The Fall of the House of Usher" remains unnamed throughout the entire story, but he tells us at the beginning that he had once been a very good friend to Roderick Usher when they were children. At the beginning of the story, he narrator tells us that he had received a letter from Roderick, requesting that he come to visit the House of Usher; Roderick was apparently suffering from a malady, and he wished for the narrator to come visit because he hoped that the narrator's company would make him feel better. Despite the many years that had passed since the narrator had last seen Roderick, the letter had so much "heart" that the narrator could not refuse the request. So he went to the House of Usher to stay for a few weeks to help his friend in his time of need.

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