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The Fall of the House of Usher

The Fall of the House of Usher

by Edgar Allan Poe

Fear Theme

For Roderick Usher fear itself is worse than whatever you actually fear. In fact, fear is responsible for at least one of the deaths in this story. One possible interpretation of the tale is that the fear of some dreaded occurrence actually manifests it in reality; that is, because the protagonist fears his death, he brings about his death.

Questions About Fear

  1. Compare the narrator’s fear and superstition to that of Usher’s.
  2. What scares Roderick so much?
  3. Compare what Roderick expects will happen with what actually happens at the end of the story. Do his fears come true? Was his a self-fulfilling prophecy, or simply a prophecy?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Roderick only fears fear itself – his fears focus on no tangible ends.

By the end of the story, the narrator comes dangerously close to being as fearful and paranoid as Roderick is.

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