Boston, Massachusetts, in Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher”

Photo Credit: Harry Clarke. Public domain.

“During the whole of a dull, dark, and soundless day in the autumn of the year, when the clouds hung oppressively low in the heavens, I had been passing alone, on horseback, through a singularly dreary tract of country; and at length found myself, as the shades of the evening drew on, within view of the melancholy House of Usher.”1

Edgar Allan Poe’s nightmarish short story “Fall of the House of Usher” (1839) is considered one of the most famous pieces

of American Gothic literature. While formulaic, Poe expertly weaves a strong emotional tone through terrific imagery of the macabre. The drab

setting immediately projects doom and gloom for the protagonist, Roderick, and the reader can do little more than watch helplessly as the horror unfolds.

Poe’s vivid world inspired many artists to explore the story in other mediums: over twelve filmic adaptations arose over the course of nearly a century, from

La Chute de la maison Usher (1928, Jean Epstein), to Roger Corman’s House of Usher (1960), all the way to contemporary animation (The Fall of the House of Usher, 2012, Raul Garcia), with just as many musical expressions and stage plays crafted through artists enraptured by the “House of Usher.” A simple house he dreamed up from scratch…or did he?

Despite the skill with which he wielded a pen, research points to external sources innately encouraging the creation of Poe’s memorable story. In the same city of his birth, Boston, a certain home known as the Usher House was torn down in

1800. Down in the cellar two skeletons were found locked in an eternal embrace. Supposedly, the owner of the house caught his wife and a sailor in a lascivious act. As punishment, he buried them alive. That eerie house existed; however, in place of the House of Usher now sit slightly less-ominous condominiums overlooking the Lewis Wharf.

Find more of Edgar Allen Poe’s haunting stories at a

local library or on Amazon.

1 Poe, Edgar Allan. Great Short Works of Edgar Allan Poe. Ed. G.R. Thompson. New York, acheter sildenafil 50 mg bifort NY: Harper & Row, Inc., 1970. v-564.

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