46 pages 1 hour read

Edgar Allan Poe

The Fall of the House of Usher

Fiction | Short Story | Adult | Published in 1839

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Character Analysis

The Narrator

The unnamed first-person narrator is the story’s protagonist. He is a young man, probably in his late teens or early twenties, and the only detail the reader knows about him is that he and Usher were boyhood friends. The narrator is assumed to be from a wealthy background, as he does not have any obligations or responsibilities that would prevent him from staying with Usher for several weeks.

The narrator’s defining trait is sensitivity. He is keenly attuned to his emotions, his environment, and the people around him. He is also depicted as clearly rational. He conveys the overwhelming emotions and moods he experiences, as well as his fears and superstitions, accurately and without judgment. His narrative style is akin to reportage. Only rarely does he offer his opinion about the feelings and events he experiences. Rather, he presents the information in a factual manner. This establishes him as a reliable narrator, which is critical in a supernatural story, where the reliability of events is already suspect.

In “The Fall of the House of Usher,” the narrator manages to escape and witness the house’s destruction. The narrator gives no indication of how events affected him afterward, even though readers know he is telling the story from a future point in time.