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The Summary Of The Fall Of The House Of Usher

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The Narrator had received a letter from a boyhood acquaintance, Roderick Usher, begging that he come to him "posthaste." Usher had written to explain that he was suffering from a terrible mental and bodily illness, and longed for the companionship of "his only personal friend." The plea seemed so heartfelt that the Narrator immediately set out for the Usher ancestral home.

Approaching the ivy-covered, decaying old house, the Narrator was struck b y an overwhelming sense of gloom which seemed to envelop the estate. The very sight of the manor caused within him "an illness, a sickening of the heart, an unredeemed dreariness." But even though the"eye-like" windows of the mansion seemed to be staring at him, he managed to swallow his fear and continue in his carriage up the path to the door. As he rode, he tried to recall Roderick Usher as he had once known him; years had passed since they had last met. He remembered his old friend as an extremely reserved fellow, quite handsome but possessing an eerie, morbid demeanor. Roderick's family was noted for its particular musical genius - and for the fact that no new branch of the family had ever been generated. For centuries, the title of the estate had passed directly from father to son, so that the term "House of Usher" had come to refer both to the family and to the mansion. Sadly, though, Roderick was the last surviving male issue of the Usher clan.

Finally, the carriage crossed over the creaking moat bridge to the door, and a servant admitted the Narrator. He was led through intricate passageways and past hung armored trophies to Roderick Usher's inner chamber, a sorrowful room where sunlight had never entered.

Usher himself looked equally shut in, almost terrifying: pallid skin like that of a corpse, lustrous eyes, and long hair that seemed to float about his head. Moreover, he was plagued by a kind of sullen, intense, nervous agitation, similar to that of a drug-addict experiencing withdrawal. The list of his complaints was dismaying:

He suffered much from a morbid acuteness of the senses; the most insipid food was alone endurable; he could wear only garments of a certain texture; the odors of all flowers were oppressive; his eyes were tortured even by faint light; and there were but peculiar sounds, and these from stringed instruments, which did not inspire him with horror.

But Usher wasn't alone in the house the Narrator caught a fleeting glimpse of his friend's twin sister, Madeline, who bore an astonishing resemblance to Roderick. Additionally, it became evident that the brother and sister shared an eerie, almost supernatural, sympathetic bond. Roderick could sense just what Madeline was feeling, and she in turn could read his every thought. Pathetically, though, beloved Madeline was grievously ill, a "gradual wasting away of the person" that was beyond the powers of physicians to cure. On the very night of the Narrator's arrival, Madeline was confined to bed; he never again saw her alive.

For weeks the Narrator tried to distract his depressed friend. They talked, painted, and read together. Usher himself even played the guitar. Once he improvised a wildly horrible ballad about a noble castle invaded by demons - a song which finally convinced the Narrator that Usher had gone mad. During this time, the two former schoolmates discussed their opinions on various matters. One discussion was especially intense: Usher believed that all matter, even inanimate objects, possessed some measure of intelligence; therefore the very stones of his house, he contended, were in essence alive. Indeed, he had long felt that the entire estate, with its dark atmosphere and personality, had,"moulded the destinies of his family" and made him what he was.

Then one day Usher announced to his friend that Madeline was "no more," and that he intended to entomb her body in the house's dungeon rather than bury it. The two carried Madeline's encoffined corpse to the grim and moss-covered underground catacombs and laid it in a vault. There they unscrewed the coffin and lifted the lid. Again startled by the dead sister's resemblance to her brother, the Narrator was even more shocked to note a blush on her cheek. Nevertheless, they resealed the coffin and



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