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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What does the storm symbolize at the end of "The Fall of the House of Usher"?

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There are a few critical explanations that shed light on what the storm may symbolize in "The Fall of the House of Usher." The storm begins when Roderick becomes agitated over the noises he hears after interring his sister, Madeline , and becomes worse as the story develops. ...

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Roderick andthe narrator soon realize Madeline may not be dead, indicating that the storm may symbolize the growing tension that eventually kills both Roderick and Madeline and drives the narrator from the house. Storms are often used in Gothic texts to evoke feelings of fear, but more importantly, also suggest that something important is happening in the story.  Poe was particularly keen on evoking both emotion, especially melancholy, and helping readers quickly come to the end of the story after a climax had been reached--what he respectively calls the sublime and denoument. Important to note also is that the storm helps the reader realize the end of the House of Usher. Just as storms can often be devastating in nature, the lightening from the storm destroys the house, representing the end of the incestuous and perverse family Usher. Poe also participated in the "gothic explique" which is a technique used in Gothic texts to explain the supernatural.  Given that the lightening occurs when Madeline begins making noises, could rationally explain why she comes back to life.  Poe would certainly have been aware of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1831) which uses the same technique.

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What could the final fall of the house in "The Fall of the House of Usher" represent?

The final fall of the House of Usher represents Roderick's descent into outright madness. Up until now, we've been aware that Roderick's of a nervous disposition, to say the least. He's a rather odd, eccentric character who's clearly not in the best of psychological health. But one thing we couldn't say is that he was completely insane.

That, however, is precisely what he becomes at the end of the story when his dead sister Madeline comes back from the grave. As the House—the Usher family name as well as the actual building—collapses, so too does Roderick's tortured mind. His mind has been deteriorating for some time, but now it's gone completely, pushed to breaking point by the eerie vision of the risen Madeline.

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What could the final fall of the house in "The Fall of the House of Usher" represent?

The double entendre of the title is repeated at the end of Poe's "The Fall of the House of Usher." That is, the close parallels of the family and the mansion end in phantasmorgia as "the full, setting, and blood-red moon now shines through the fissure of the house". This eerie glow of dying life symbolizes the tragic flaw of the Usher lineage.

Roderick Usher dies of fright when Madeline falls upon him in the throes of death.  The narrator flees in terror at the destruction of both the mansion and the genetic lines of the Ushers. Madeline, Usher's identical twin, comes to claim him; perhaps she represents a part of Roderick's mind that he has tried to suppress, some dark urge or family secret. Certainly, the lasting image of the "blood-red moon" and the collapse of the Usher mansion--

a long tumultous shouting sound like the voice of a thousand waters--

as it is swallowed by the mountain lake suggest the tragic end of the Usher family, a family plagued by disturbances of the mind, "fissures" of rational thought. 

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