Friday, March 13, 2009

Poe Fridays: The Fall of the House of Usher

I was so excited to get to re-read The Fall of the House of Usher this week. This is Poe at his best. Please go read it if you haven't before!

This is the story of the "House of Usher", both a physical house and a family line. The narrator describes it thusly --
I looked upon the scene before me - upon the mere house, and the simple landscape features of the domain - upon the bleak walls - upon the vacant eye-like windows - upon a few rank sedges - and upon a few white trunks of decayed trees - with an utter depression of soul which I can compare to no earthly sensation more properly than to the after-dream of the reveller upon opium - the bitter lapse into everyday life - the hideous dropping off of the veil. There was an iciness, a sinking, a sickening of the heart - an unredeemed dreariness of thought which no goading of the imagination could torture into aught of the sublime.

In this creepy and almost disgusting house, is the narrator's childhood friend, Roderick Usher, whom he has come to visit at Usher's request. What he finds in the house is a friend changed almost beyond recognition, a dying sister and a pervading sense of gloom and malice. Things escalate to a tragic end which our narrator narrowly escapes.

This story is perfect to show Poe's love of creating "atmosphere" in his stories. In fact, little of this story is actually plot but mostly description of the house, the grounds, the homeowner and the feelings that all of those things inspire. I found that this story worked best by imagining an actual narrator's voice. I could hear a morbid fascination, a smidge of panic and a tint of fear all come through. This is truly a well-crafted tale.

Next week's Poe read will be the poem Lenore.

Not the end of my family line,


  1. I don't know why I always forget this part - my post is up here.

  2. Kristen - Nice to see you progressing so well with your 'Poe Fridays' challenge.

    For some inexplicable reason I'm stalled on my own Poe reading challenge at story No.5. Quite shameful really.
    Anyway continued success. You've inspired me to get my finger out :o)