46 pages 1 hour read

Edgar Allan Poe

The Fall of the House of Usher

Fiction | Short Story | Adult | Published in 1839

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“The Fall of the House of Usher”

  • Genre: Fiction; short story; horror
  • Originally Published: 1839
  • Reading Level/Interest: Lexile 1420L; 10-12
  • Structure/Length: Approx. 20 pages; approx. 39 minutes on audio
  • Protagonist and Central Conflict: Roderick Usher and his sister Madeline, the last of the Usher line, live in the large, ominous family estate. When Madeline dies, her body is entombed in a section of the house. Roderick, afflicted by a nervous condition that heightens his senses and causes bad dreams, becomes increasingly distressed as horrific sounds plague his mind and lead to the story’s shocking conclusion.
  • Potential Sensitivity Issues: Death, gore, intimation of incest

Edgar Allan Poe, Author

  • Bio: 1809-1849; attended the University of Virginia; joined the United States Army; wrote often in the Gothic horror genre; became editor, literary critic, and writer; writing influenced literature and popular culture; popularized and helped shape the field of cryptography; mystery surrounds his death; from 1849-2009, every year on Poe’s birthday, roses and cognac were left at his grave; has literary award named in his honor: Edgar Awards
  • Other Works: “The Masque of the Red Death” (1842); “The Tell-Tale Heart” (1843); “The Raven” (1845); “The Cask of Amontillado” (1846)

CENTRAL THEMES connected and noted throughout this Teaching Unit:

  • Incest, “Madness,” and Moral Consequences
  • Sentient Decay
  • Narrative Reliability and Supernatural Versus Rational Explanations