"The Fall of the House of Usher" is a short story about a man visiting his childhood companion who happens to be ill. Throughout this horrific tale, there are several dreadful pictures being painted in the readers' minds to set the mood. The family, as well as the house, holds many secrets. Eventually, the secrets are uncovered and both the family and the house fall to their doom. In "The Fall of the House of Usher," Edgar Allan Poe expresses the idea that the physical house represents the Usher family through descriptive imagery of death, suggestion of the family's secrets, and disintegration of both the family and the house. .
Poe focused this short story around death and terror by forcing his readers to imagine dark, gloomy settings. He begins the story with the narrator "passing alone, on horseback, through a singularly dreary tract of country," and he feels "a sense of insufferable gloom" as soon as he sees "the melancholy House of Usher" (313). This foreshadows that his visit will be more than just reminiscing with an old friend. .
Thompson, in his Critical Essays on Edgar Allen Poe, states that "Poe obviously intended the image of the skull-like face of the house to dominate as the central image of the tale" (144). Poe mentions the shape of a skull several other times to impose thoughts of death in his readers' minds. In The 'Legitimate' Sources of Terror in 'The Fall of the House of Usher,' Walker explains that in front of the house, reflecting its image "the black tarn is associated with imagery of desolation (grey sedge) and decay (rotting trees), as well as with the house itself" (48). .
As the story progresses, Poe lets his readers know that the narrator's childhood friend, Roderick Usher, is sick and has requested the narrator's company. The narrator soon discovers that the Usher family members suffer from several bizarre diseases.