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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In “The Fall of the House of Usher,” how does Roderick's poem contribute to the story’s theme?

Quick answer:

In "The Fall of the House of Usher," Roderick's poem, “The Haunted Palace,” mirrors themes and events in the story. The poem's depiction of a haunted dwelling parallels the Usher house, and its eerie apparitions reflect Roderick's disturbed mind. The poem's nostalgia for better days mirrors Roderick's grief for his sister. The abrupt change in the fifth stanza, featuring discordant tones and ghastly figures, foreshadows the narrator's escape at the end of the story.

Expert Answers

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Roderick Usher’s poem “The Haunted Palace” echoes several themes in Edgar Allan Poe’s story. The overall idea of a dwelling that is afflicted by spirits could easily apply to the Ushers’ home as well as the fictional palace. The eerie quality and fantastic apparitions also convey Roderick’s frame of mine, which is not quite anchored in everyday reality. The nostalgic longing for brighter, better days also resonates with Roderick’s current grief over his sister’s death, as he reflects on their former happiness. The harmony of their life, and their entire family line, may be symbolized by the monarch’s “glory” and his “wit and wisdom.”

In the fifth stanza, the poem changes abruptly, and Roderick’s real-life concerns now appear: “Ah, let us mourn” and “the old time entombed.” The tone changes to “discordant” and the people who rush out of the house are “ghastly” and “hideous”—foreshadowing the narrator’s flight at the story’s end.

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