The Fall Of The House Of Usher – Edgar Allan Poe

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The Fall of the House of Usher book, by Edgar Allan Poe, is a classic gothic-style horror story that was published in 1839 (download a free copy of The Fall Of The House Of Usher PDF by clicking the button found below). Just like The Cask of Amontillado, it is a short story that Poe wrote with dark and sinister themes.

The Fall of the House of Usher story follows an unnamed narrator who travels to the house of his friend, Roderick Usher, to find him in a state of mental and physical decline. The house itself mirrors Usher’s decline with its grounds overgrown with brambles and vines.

Roderick Usher tells the narrator that the cause of his condition is a family curse that has haunted his line for generations. We learn that Usher’s sister, Madeline, has died and been entombed in the family crypt.

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Yes, it is! The Fall Of The House Of Usher story was written by Edgar Allan Poe in 1839 so it is in the public domain. You are therefore welcome to download and read it for free! We hope you enjoy it!

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The Fall Of The House Of Usher Book Summary

The Fall of The House Of Usher begins with an unnamed narrator arriving at the estate of his childhood friend, Roderick Usher. Roderick had sent the narrator a letter asking him to come because he was feeling ill and needed help. When he arrives the narrator notes that the house is very ominous as if surrounded by a feeling of dread.

With the first glimpse of the building, a sense of insufferable gloom pervaded my spirit. I say insufferable; for the feeling was unrelieved by any of that half-pleasurable, because poetic, sentiment, with which the mind usually receives even the sternest natural images of the desolate or terrible.

The Narrator | The Fall of the House Of Usher

The narrator enters the house and it is just as ominous inside as it is outside. We learn that Roderick and his sister Madeline are the only two surviving members of the House of Usher. Madeline, however, is also very sick suffering from a cataleptic disease that affects her muscles making it difficult for her to move on her own.

Over the next few days, the narrator spends time with Roderick trying to cheer him up. He reads him stories, paints and listens to him play the guitar but nothing seems to lift his spirits. Roderick tells the narrator that he believes the house itself is alive and that the future of his family is connected to the house itself.

Soon thereafter Madeline dies and Roderick asks the narrator to help him move her body to the tombs below the house. He wants to leave her body there for two weeks before arranging a formal burial because he is afraid that doctors might dig her body up to study it because of her unusual disease.

While moving Madeline’s body to the tombs, the narrator notices that she has a smile on her face and that her cheeks are still rosy but doesn’t think too much about it because this type of phenomenon is sometimes seen after death. He also realizes that Roderick and Madeline were twins.

Over the next couple of days, Roderick starts becoming more and more agitated. The narrator also is uneasy and he struggles to sleep. One night, during a storm, Roderick comes to the narrator’s bedroom in a panic. He throws open the window to the bedroom and shows the narrator a strange glowing gas that is surrounding the house. The narrator tries to calm him by convincing him that it is a natural phenomenon caused by the storm.

He tries to calm Roderick by reading him a story. However, while he reads, the sounds in the story from the book seem to be reflected in the sounds coming from the house. The narrator learns that Roderick has been hearing these sounds for days. Roderick believes that they had buried Madeline alive and that she is making the sounds while trying to escape the tomb.

Just then the wind blows the door open and Madeline is standing there in her white robes that are covered in blood from her struggle to escape the tomb. Just before Madeline dies she leaps toward her brother and scares him to death.

The narrator runs away in terror and when he looks back at the house he sees that it has been split into two, and is left in fragments.

What Does The House Of Usher Symbolize?

In The Fall of the House of Usher, the house itself is a symbol of the deterioration of the Usher family. Just as the house itself is deteriorating so are Roderick and his sister, Madeline deteriorating both physically and mentally. Edgar Allen Poe uses a lot of images and symbols in the house to convey the message of their descent into despair and madness.

What Happens To Roderick At The End Of The Story?

By the end of the story, we see that Roderick has slowly descended into paranoia and madness. However one could say that his feelings are justified when his “dead” sister bursts into the room. When Roderick sees his sister he literally dies of fright.

Why Did Roderick Usher Bury His Sister?

In the story, Roderick tells the narrator that his sister has died and that he needs help burying her. He tells the narrator that he wants to keep her body in the tombs below the house for two weeks as he is afraid that doctors could dig up her body to try to study her mysterious illness.

However, the narrator notices that Madeline has a smile on her face and her checks have a red flush to them when they bury her in the tomb. Because of Madeline’s illness, which can cause temporary paralysis, we can assume that Madeline was in fact still alive when they buried her.

Many say that Roderick buried Madeline knowing that she was still alive because he insisted that she be kept in the tomb under the house rather than being publically buried where she could have been saved.

It is thought that he buried her because he feared her disease and didn’t want to catch it himself. Because they were twins, it could also be said that she represented a part of himself that he wanted to bury.


The Fall of the House of Usher book is another one of Edgar Allan Poe’s darker short stories that explores the demise of the Usher family. It is a must-read for Edgar Allan Poe fans or those who enjoy classic horror literature. Download a free copy of The Fall of the House of Usher here.

More Edgar Allan Poe Books and Poems
The Raven
The Cask of Amontillado
The Tell-Tale Heart PDF
The Black Cat