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Haunted Houses in Literature: “Fall of the House of Usher”

Edgar Allen Poe wrote the short story titled “Fall of the House of Usher” in 1845, which was centered on the theme of a dilapidated haunted castle. The tale is filled with a lot of emotion and deals with feelings of fear, guilt, and doom. In the story, we meet Roderick Usher, who has a disease that remains unnamed.

Because of the disease, the main character’s senses are heightened. There are physical signs of the disease, but Usher experiences a great deal of mental side effects. He also displays some characteristics of a hypochondriac who believes he will be sick anyway you look at it because his family history is riddled with illness.

The start of the story creates a scene where an unknown narrator emerges. He has paid a visit to the house of his childhood friend, Roderick Usher, after receiving a letter from him that complains of an illness. Ushers asks for his help. The story reveals that Roderick has a twin sister named Madeline, who is also ill. She is prone to falling into death-like trances. When the friend arrives, he is impressed by Roderick’s paintings and tries to cheer him up by reading with him and listening to music. A song that Roderick sings is called ‘The Haunted Palace.” He then proceeds to his friend that he believes the house that he lives in is sentient.

Events take place in the story that doesn’t seem right, such as the burial of Roderick’s sister. He tells his friend that she has died and insists that she spend two weeks in a vault (family tomb) before receiving a permanent burial.  As the narrator helps Roderick place her body in the tomb, he comments on the rosiness of Madeline’s cheeks. She is interred, but in the next week, both the narrator and Roderick are experiencing unexplained agitation. Then, a storm strikes and Roderick visits the narrator in his bedroom, which is positioned directly about the vault. When he opens the window, they see something glowing in the dark around the house during the storm.

In an attempt to calm Roderick, he starts to read a novel to him about a dragon and a knight. It seems that some of the story that he reads is followed by a response in their midst. For example, they hear cracking and ripping sounds when the narrator reads of the knights forcing his way into the dwelling. As the narrator reads that the dragon is shrieking during its death, a shriek is heard within the residence.

Other sounds described in the tale he reads are heard by the narrator and Roderick. This causes Roderick to become hysterical. He believes that the sounds are being made by his sister, who they believe was still alive when she was entombed. The bedroom door opens and indeed, his sister Madeline is standing there. She falls on her brother and when they both reach the ground , they are corpses. The narrator is frightened so badly that he flees the home and as he is getting farther from the residence, he sees a flash of light and an end of the House of Usher.