The Fall of the House of Usher: Top Ten Quotes
1. “I know not how it was—but, with the first glimpse of the building, a sense of insufferable gloom pervaded my spirit” (p. 38).
The narrator is depressed by the appearance of the House of Usher as he approaches.
2. “Many books and musical instruments lay scattered about, but failed to give any vitality to the scene” (p. 40).
Roderick Usher is a man of culture, but he is unable to find comfort in anything. He has a nervous condition that leaves him debilitated.
3. “He suffered much from a morbid acuteness of the senses” (p. 41).
Roderick Usher is a “hypochondriac” or suffering from a depression which distorts his perception.
4. “To an anomalous species of terror I found him a bounden slave” (p. 41).
Roderick is afraid, but he does not know what causes his fear. He blames the atmosphere of the house itself.
5. “An excited and highly distempered ideality threw a sulphurous luster over all. His long improvised dirges will ring forever in my ears” (p. 42).
Although a gifted artist, Roderick’s music is weird and concerned with death and the supernatural.
6. “ . . . having informed me abruptly that the lady Madeleine was no more, he stated his intention of preserving her corpse for a fortnight . . . in one of the numerous vaults within the main walls of the building” (p. 45).
Roderick decides to bury his sister in the basement though she is suffering from one of her cataleptic fits that leave her paralyzed. His hasty decision, especially since he knows about her disease, leaves one with the conclusion that he has gone mad.
7. “At the request of Usher, I personally aided him in the arrangements for the temporary entombment” (p. 45).
The fact that the narrator is willing to help Roderick in the strange burial illustrates the power of the irrational atmosphere of the house and of his friend’s influence.
8. “There were times indeed when I thought his unceasingly agitated mind was laboring with some oppressive secret” (p. 46)
Roderick’s behavior changes after he buries his sister. The narrator suspects him of having a terrible secret, which is, of course, that he has put her in the tomb knowing she was not really dead.
9. “It was, indeed, a tempestuous yet sternly beautiful night, and one wildly singular in its terror and its beauty” (p. 47).
The storm that finally destroys the House of Usher is described as being sublime and otherworldly, deadly in its beauty. It is a supernatural phenomenon generated by Madeleine’s rising from her tomb.
10. “These appearances, which bewilder you, are merely electrical phenomena not uncommon . . .” (p. 47).
Even as the House of Usher is being destroyed by the storm and Madeleine’s resurrection from her grave, the narrator tries to comfort Roderick with rational explanations of the light in the tarn being caused by electrical charges from the storm.