“During the whole of a dull, dark, and soundless day in the autumn of the year, when the clouds hung oppressively low in the heavens, I had been passing alone, on horseback, through a singularly dreary tract of country; and at length found myself, as the shades of the evening drew on, within view of the melancholy House of Usher.”
And so begins Poe’s short story “The Fall of the House of Usher”, the eerie tale of the nameless narrator’s time in this strange, mysterious house. The narrator receives a message from his childhood friend, Roderick Usher, asking if he could come and stay at his house to help him get better. The narrator concedes without any further information being given, and proceeds to travel to the House of Usher. He soon discovers that Roderick is not in a healthy state of being, and his twin sister, Madeline Usher, exudes an aura of oddness wherever she goes. Many days past, and the narrator finds himself “stuck” in the bizarre world within the House, unable to let go until it inevitably collapses completely.
- Detailed descriptions of the House itself really added to the eerie atmosphere of the story. It had a haunted house vibe to it that was really spooky and perfect for reading close to the Halloween season.
- The recurring theme of duality is fascinating. For example, sometimes it is difficult to distinguish if Poe is talking about the building itself or the family when he references the House of Usher.
- I liked Madeline, Roderick’s twin sister, because she’s so mysterious. Roderick is practically insane, but why isn’t she? Why can’t she help Roderick get better? She’s an enigma, which is the best kind of character.
- It’s suspenseful and definitely a page-turner. The strangeness of the world within the House builds and builds, until you can’t take it anymore and just NEED to know what happens.
- THE ENDING. Oh my, was this ending fantastic! As a reader you get the sense that something bad is going to happen at the end, but I never guessed that it would be THAT. It’s creepy and frightening and disturbing and just so Poe.
- I would say the only major weakness of this story is the fact that it’s so vague. Some people like the uncertainty of this story because it adds to the mysteriousness of it, but I would have preferred a bit more information. Specifically, I would have liked to know more about how the narrator knew Roderick, the history of the House of Usher, why Roderick was so crazy, etc.
Overall, this was an excellent spooky story and a great one with which to kick off Poevember. I highly recommend it!