The Fall of the House of Usher
Edgar Allan Poe's wife, Virginia died on Jan. 30, 1847, Poe became increasingly depressed after her death. He dated several women in an attempt to find relief for the loss of his wife. In 1849, he was engaged to a childhood sweetheart, who by then was a wealthy widow. After making wedding plans, he set out for New York City from Richmond but disappeared in Baltimore. He was found five days after he disappeared, very near death. He died four days later, on Oct. 7, 1849, without ever regaining full consciousness.
There are three significant characters in this story: the narrator, Roderick and Madeline Usher. The narrator is a boyhood friend of Roderick Usher. Roderick and Madeline Usher are the sole, remaining members of the time-honored Usher family. When Madeline "dies" and is placed in her coffin the narrator notices a strong resemblance between her and Roderick.
Roderick tells his friend that he and the Lady Madeline had been twins. Poe treats Madeline and Roderick as if they were two parts of one personality. He implies that Roderick and Madeline can sense what is happening to each other. This is an important aspect of effect in this particular story.
Roderick and Madeline symbolize two parts of one personality. The decay of Roderick's sanity is related to the deterioration of Madeline's physical health. The house is connected to the Ushers and has a sense of darkness and dreariness that mirrors the worsening condition of Roderick and Madeline. The turning point is when Madeline 'dies'. Roderick decides to entomb her temporarily in the vault beneath the house. As the lid to the coffin is sealed, Roderick's friend notices a faint blush on the chest and face of Madeline. After several days of grieving, an...