The Fall of the House of Usher

What kind of sybolizm was there in the story?

Is the house a symbol of the whole family?

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The narrator observes a crack in the mansion upon his arrival to the Usher estate. Since he’s just mentioned that “The House of Usher” refers both to the family and the building, we should have an eye out for symbolic connections between the two. And indeed, we can see this small fissure as representative of a disruption in the unity of the family, more specifically, between Madeline and her brother. This is the disruption that ultimately tears the family – and the mansion – to pieces.

We’ve seen that art mirrors reality in this story, but there are several other cases of “doubling” or “reflection” going on. Starting off the story is the inverted reflection of the House of Usher in the tarn that lies before the house. You’ve also got the inverted dichotomy between Madeline and Usher, twins, but male/female, mental/physical (see “Character Analysis”), alive/dead. Dichotomy means a division between two opposing things.


The decrepit nature of the house itself symbolizes the deconstruction of the Usher family. Also, the storm is symbolic for the events that occur to the characters. The "vacant-eye"-like windows mirror those seen in Roderick and Madeline. All symbolize a lifelessness.