1. What is the single effect Poe
Single Effect: Poe’s belief that a short story
can achieve unity by focusing on just ONE
unique emotional effect that will draw the
reader in (“hook”); reader feels what the
character feels
Answers may vary
“Insufferable Gloom”
2. Describe the house of Usher
•“bleak walls”
•“vacant eye-like windows”
•“few rank sedges”
•“white trunks of decayed trees”
•“It’s principle feature seemed to be that of
excessive antiquity”
3. How does the narrator feel upon
seeing the house of Usher?
•“It was a mystery all insoluble.”
The house has a certain sentient
power to it but the narrator is
unsure as to its impact
•“the analysis of this power lies among
considerations beyond our depth.”
4. Why has the narrator come to
the house of Usher?
The narrator is summoned by
the house’s sickly inhabitant,
Roderick Usher, who wishes
for the company of his “only
personal friend.”
5. What is peculiar (“deficiency”)
about the Usher lineage?
Ushers = wealthy, cultured,
“ancient” and incestuous
•“entire family lay in the direct line of
descent” (296)
The family name is always in jeopardy of
dying out
6. How has Roderick Usher
changed since the narrator last saw
Narrator notices a remarkable
alteration and hardly recognizes his
childhood friend:
•“man had never before so terribly altered,
in so brief a period”
•“lay so much of change that I doubted to
whom I spoke”
7. Describe Roderick Usher’s
1.Hyperesthesia: sensory overload;
hypersensitivity to light, sound, smells
and tastes
2.Hypochondria: Preoccupation about
3.Acute anxiety
*** Terms predate story, invention of modern psychological science
8. Who is Madeline? What is her
Madeline is Roderick’s sister
She has a “settled apathy, gradual
wasting away” which had long
baffled physicians. She falls into
deathlike, catatonic trances
(comatose states)
9. How does the poem reflect Usher’s
state of mind?
Poem = “The Haunted Palace” (a story within
a story!)
An allegory about a king who is afraid of
the evil forces that threaten him and his
The poem conveys Usher’s fearful, fragile
state and foreshadows Usher’s
impending doom
10. What does the narrator learn
when Madeline “dies”?
Madeline is Roderick’s
twin sister
Roderick wishes to
temporarily entomb
Madeline in the family
catacombs for two
weeks before
permanent burial
11. How does Roderick Usher change
after the “death” of his sister?
“An observable change came over the
features of the mental disorder of my
friend…” (305)
• Ordinary manner vanished
• His ordinary occupations were neglected or
• He roams from chamber to chamber with objectless step
12. Describe the events that happen on
the narrator’s sleepless night.
“I struggled to reason off the full power of such
feelings… the nervousness which had dominion over
The narrator’s mind begins to play tricks on him, as if the house is
coming alive and taunting him
A tempest occurs
 Narrator begins to wander about the house
 Narrator encounters Usher roaming throughout the house
 Narrator notices the tarn illuminated yet not caused by storm’s lightning
 Narrator decides to read the Mad Tryst to Usher so as to soothe him
13. What sounds does the narrator
hear as he reads to Usher?
Eerie noises occur around the house as the
narrator reads to Usher, as if the sounds of the
story are being mimicked by some
supernatural entity
“I did actually hear… a low and apparently distant, but
harsh, protracted, and most unusual screaming or
grating sound– the exact counterpart of what my
fancy had already conjured up for the dragon’s
unnatural shriek as described by the romancer.” (308)
14. Why does the narrator flee the
house of Usher?
The heightened sense of madness
and terror combined with Lady
Madeline’s “enshrouded figure”
bearing Roderick a corpse
forces the narrator to flee
15. What happens to the house of
The house crumbles in on itself, signifying the
finality of the Usher family lineage
“Suddenly there shot along the path a wild light, and I turned to see whence
a gleam so unusual could have issued; for the vast house and its
shadows were alone behind me. The radiance was that of the full,
setting, and bloodred moon, which now shone vividly through that once
barely discernible fissure, of building, in a zigzag direction, to the base.
While I gazed, this fissure rapidly opened– there came a fierce breath at
once upon my sight– my brain reeled as I saw the mighty walls rushing
asunder– there was a long tumultuous shouting sound like the voice of a
thousand waters– and the deep and dank tarn at my feet closed sullenly
and silently over the fragments of the ‘House of Usher’” (309-310)