The Fall of the House of Usher

Literary significance and criticism

Along with "The Tell-Tale Heart", "The Black Cat" and "The Cask of Amontillado", "The Fall of the House of Usher" is considered among Poe's most famous works of prose.[23]

This highly unsettling macabre work is recognized as a masterpiece of American Gothic literature. Indeed, as in many of his tales, Poe borrows much from the already developed Gothic tradition. Still, as G. R. Thomson writes in his Introduction to Great Short Works of Edgar Allan Poe, "the tale has long been hailed as a masterpiece of Gothic horror; it is also a masterpiece of dramatic irony and structural symbolism."[24]

"The Fall of the House of Usher" has been criticized for being too formulaic. Poe was criticized for following his own patterns established in works like "Morella" and "Ligeia," using stock characters in stock scenes and stock situations. Repetitive themes like an unidentifiable disease, madness, and resurrection are also criticized.[25] Washington Irving explained to Poe in a letter dated November 6, 1839, "You have been too anxious to present your pictures vividly to the eye, or too distrustful of your effect, and had laid on too much colouring. It is erring on the best side--the side of luxuriance."[26]

John McAleer maintained that the idea for "objectifying Ahab's flawed character" came from the "evocative force" of Poe's 'The Fall of the House of Usher.' In both Ahab and the house of Usher, the appearance of fundamental soundness is visibly flawed — by Ahab's livid scar, and by the fissure in the masonry of Usher.[27]


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