The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe

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Ideas for Reports and Papers

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

1. After explaining Poe's "single effect" theory, apply it to one or two of Poe's other stories by narrowing the focus and concentrating on one or two plot details—for example, the story's opening and closing techniques; the symbols if any; the characters.

2. "The Cask of Amontillado" is one of Poe's perfect revenge stories and it begins, "The thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as best I could, but when he ventured upon insult I vowed revenge." Using either one or two of Poe's other stories, explain how the opening sentences establish tone, character, plot, and theme.

3. Compare or contrast 'The Fall of the House of Usher" with another Poe story by limiting the focus to one of the following suggestions: (a) the heroes; (b) the heroines; (c) the settings; (d) the gothic devices; (e) the color symbolism; (f) themes (e.g., premature burials, madness, murder).

4. Poe uses the doppleganger effect in "William Wilson" and "The Fall of the House of Usher." What is the doppleganger effect and how is it evident in one or both of these stories.

5. Explain the function of the "The Haunted Palace" in "The Fall of the House of Usher."

6. As with "The Haunted Palace," Poe uses a similar technique with "The Conqueror Worm" in "Ligeia." Do they share similar effects?

7. Choose a favorite horror film and discuss its use of gothic techniques. If these techniques are similar to ones Poe used, indicate the similarities by referring to specific stories; if they are different or innovations on Poe's techniques, explain by also referring to specific stories.