In Edgar Allen Poe's "the fall of the house of usher" the main character has no name. He is a boyhood friend of the second protagonist "Roderick". Roderick has been taken ill with a mental illness similar to that of acute depression and to a lesser degree paranoid schizophrenia. The main character receives a letter from Roderick asking for his immediate counsel at his house, "the house of usher". The main character feels a sense of foreboding at his task. His task is to help his friend out of his sense of malady and his task is to overcome his own sense of apprehension and his obstacle is his anxiety over seeing his "boon companion" in such a state of poor mental health. Roderick and his twin sister Madeline are the last of the all time-honoured "House of Usher." They are both suffering from rather strange illnesses, which may be attributed to the intermarriage of the family. Roderick suffers from "a morbid acuteness of the senses"; while Madeline's illness is characterized by ".a settled apathy.".
Poe brings his characters to life by giving them intense feelings and thoughts and inputs extensive detail As a result of this, the narrator spends the opening paragraphs reflecting upon the past as well as trying to prepare himself for the imminent reunion; however, nothing prepares him for the "altered" state of his childhood companion: ".a caderousness of complexion; an eye large, liquid, and luminous beyond comparison; lips somewhat thin and very pallid, but of a surpassingly beautiful curve; a nose of a delicate Hebrew model, but with a breadth of nostril unusual in similar formations; a finely molded chin, speaking in its want of of prominence, of a want of moral energy; hair of a more than web-like softness and tenuity; these features, with an inordinate expansion above the regions of the temple, made up altogether a countenance not easily to be forgotten.". The characters provide a vantage point on the series of events that unfold.