The Fall in the House of Usher written by Edgar Allan Poe has many similar qualities to his other works, including one of Poe’s most famous works called The Raven. The Fall in the House of Usher was filled with nail biting suspense, and Poe leaves his readers wanting more out of the story. In the story we meet Roderick Usher, the leader of the Usher household. He lived with his sister Madeline, and they both had apparent illnesses that ended their lives. From the beginning to end of the story, we are filled with eerie suspense and ambiguity. Poe expresses his gothic style writing through the character of Roderick Usher and the setting. Roderick Usher was the last existing member of the Usher family other than his twin sister Madeline. When he wrote to his childhood friend, the letter “... gave evidence of nervous agitation” (294). Roderick was homebound and always found himself “... in some struggle with the grim phantasm, fear” (299). He lived by fear, and to the reader, that was his illness. He was afraid of the future. Poe uses this to prove that Roderick was just like any other human being. Everyone has fears; it just happens that Roderick's fear was fear itself. Once Madeline “dies,” Roderick’s condition worsened. He began to act more and more like his sister had before her death. He roamed the hallways and never really talked. Poe made Roderick seem to be lonely and depressed with his sister gone. When she escaped from her coffin, she fell heavily onto her brother and they both turned to corpses. His fate was inevitable. Roderick was “... a victim to the terrors he had anticipated” (309). In the end, it never mattered if Roderick was lonely or depressed because he let his fear end his life. In Poe stories, not only were the characters important, but the setting was just as vital to have a better understanding of the story. In The Fall of the House of Usher, the Usher house sets the scene for the odd and mysterious events that took place during the narrator’s extended visit. As soon as the narrator arrived to the Usher house, he knew that “... a sense of insufferable gloom pervaded my spirit” (293). Before he made his way to the door of the house, he saw a tarn. When he looked at the reflection of the tarn, all he noticed was the dark gloom and sadness that the house expressed. There was a fissure all down the side of the wall in a zigzag pattern. Assuming that the crack symbolizes the fall of the Usher family line, the fissure was a very important detail to the story. It shows how the house was in ruins. After Madeline and Roderick both had passed, the narrator quickly escaped out of the house, and he left the desolate place just in time. The fissure widened, and “... the deep and dank tarn at my feet closed sullenly and silently over the fragments of the ‘House of Usher’” (310). This signaled the definite end of the family line.
Throughout the story, Poe leaves his readers to decide the meaning of the story. Although there are no right or wrong answers, one could still come up with a logical explanation for certain scenes. I for one feel like Roderick Usher knew in some way that his sister Madeline was still alive when she was buried. Even though “... he stated his intention of preserving her corpse for a fortnight…” (304), I think he knew because in the text, it mentions that she had a cataleptical illness. She could have just been unconscious when they thought that she had died. Poe hints at this conclusion when he says "... the mockery of a faint blush upon the bosom and the face, and that suspiciously lingering smile upon the lip..." (305). It says that she still had color to her face and she was smiling. Because of this, I think that she was still alive, but they didn’t stop the burial. Along with the fact of the incorrect burial, it was Roderick and Madeline Usher’s fate to no longer be in existence by the end of the story. In the beginning of the tale, Poe stated that there were no other Ushers alive to be in line for the house, and Roderick was scared of fear itself. With both Ushers having illnesses, the reader can predict that they will die, and the Usher family will come to an end.
Throughout all of the ambiguous and questionable scenes in The Fall in the House of Usher, Poe left his readers wanting to know more about his story. While he foreshadowed Madeline being buried alive, his readers have to pay attention to every single detail that he mentioned. Just like the fissure at the beginning of the story, it became an important part to the ending. Unfortunate as it may be that the Usher family line had ended, it was their fate that would have happened eventually. Since Roderick feared fear, it was bound to happen that he would end his life because of the fear. Poe had an excellent scheme for this story, and his works will live on to leave his readers questioning.