Continuing his tradition of the creepy, weird, and Gothic style, Edgar Allan Poe does not disappoint in this short story about a strange family who finds its end in the most macabre of ways. Likely, the "fall" the title is referring to is both the actual structure of the Usher family’s house, and the fall of the Usher family itself, as both heirs die and end the family name.
The Fall of the House of Usher Summary Plot Diagram
Roderick Usher wrote a letter to the narrator to come and visit him for a short time to help him overcome an agitation of his soul that he has been experiencing. The narrator observes that house seems sickly, and Usher himself is pale and sickly. The state of the house seems to be coinciding with the state of Roderick Usher.
Usher reveals that his twin sister Madeline is dying. She passes, and Usher decides to keep her body in a vault in one of the walls while he makes plans for her burial. The narrator notices that Madeline’s cheeks and chest are still flushed. Usher’s appearance and demeanor worsen after her death.
Shortly after Madeline was placed in the vault, the narrator begins to hear strange noises in the house. One night, in the middle of a storm, Usher comes to the narrator’s bed chamber and they open the window to a terrifying atmosphere with low-hanging clouds and fog. The narrator begins to read to Usher to calm him down.
As the narrator reads, the sounds he describes begin to echo in the house. When he reaches the climax, they hear a scream. Usher tips over his chair and begins rocking back and forth. Usher whispers that he’s been hearing sounds from his sister’s coffin and he fears he buried her alive. The door flies open, and there is Madeline, covered in blood.
Madeline leaps upon Roderick and dies. Roderick also dies, likely from shock and fear. The narrator flees the house.
As the narrator watches, he sees the house collapse and disappear into the ethereal fog and waters. Eventually, the house is completely gone.