Differences & Similarities Between ‘The Fall of the House of Usher’ and Edgar Allan Poe’s Story Explained

Differences Similarities between The Fall of the House of Usher and Edgar Allan Poes Story
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‘The Fall of the House of Usher’ is Mike Flanagan’s latest masterpiece. The series was based on a famous short story written by Edgar Allan Poe under the same name. Considering that ‘The Fall of the House of Usher’ had eight episodes with around 60-minute runtime and Poe’s story was just a few pages long, some things, I mean many things, had to be added to the story. So, If you’re wondering what details were kept from the original work and what details were changed from the core, you’re at the right place! 

Similar – The story takes place in the Usher house

Usher House

Edgar Allan Poe’s story, ‘The Fall of The House of Usher’ is told from the perspective of a “friend” who comes to visit Roderick, who seems troubled with the sickness, which he references as fear. We learn that Roderick and his sister are hiding inside his house, terrified and afraid of everything. The house fills him with dread during the night. 

In the first episode, Auguste Dupin meets Roderick in the old Usher house, where Madeline and Roderick spent their childhood. It’s quite clear that even though Roderick is not outwardly afraid of the house, he resents it and claims that “this is where all the rot came from.” The house is a remarkably powerful symbol in Poe’s story, and it’s also used as a strong symbol in Flanagan’s show. 

Different – Roderick never had children

Roderick children

In Poe’s story, it’s explicitly stated that Roderick lives as a recluse, sharing the house with his sister. It’s also stated that Roderick and his sister are the last Ushers left. Even though they are described as handsome people, they obviously never married. 

In the show, Roderick had six kids in total and one granddaughter. This was the core drastic change that, basically, the whole story revolves around. Without the addition of Roderick’s children, the story would never take place. 

Similar – Roderick and Madeline share an unusually close bond 

Madeline and Roderick

Poe’s story makes sure that the reader realizes how close the Usher siblings are, especially during their last days. Roderick is obsessed with his TWIN sister and petrified of her dying of a mysterious illness that renders her practically catatonic. Some literature analysts proposed that Poe perhaps insinuated that Roderick and Madeline had an incestuous relationship. But nothing of the sort can be found on the pages directly. They were very close due to being the only members of the family left in this world and due to being twins. 

RELATED:

‘The Fall of the House of Usher’: Was Verna Truly the Devil? 

In the show, we can see that Roderick and Madeline built the empire together and knew everything about each other; they were as close as siblings and did everything together. Even murder and getting rich. They also, like in the book, died on the same day. 

Different – Roderick never killed his sister

Roderick killing madeline

In the story, we know that Madeline has some sort of disease that renders her catatonic and oblivious to the world outside. We don’t know what exactly happened to her, but we know that “she died,” and Roderick was the one to find her. He refused to call the authorities to deal with her body out of fear that they would do tests and experiments on her corpse, something that was common in the era in which the story was written. 

In the series, Roderick was the one who attempted to kill his sister. He did so in a ceremonial way, although she later returned to life. He had every intention to eliminate her because he thought it was fated.  

Similar – Roderick was sick and hallucinating 

Roderick usher

In the story, we learn that Roderick was suffering from a mysterious illness that caused him to resent sounds, smells, and sensations and caused him to suffer from hallucinations and find recluse in the loneliness of his own home. He suffered from constant fear and anxiety, afraid of everything and everyone. He saw shadows coming alive, threatening to swallow him, and the books he read only fueled that mysterious illness that caused him to suffer both mentally and physically. 

In the series, Roderick has vascular dementia. That much is known, and we know that one of the symptoms of the disease is hallucinations. Even though Poe’s Roderick most likely suffered from schizophrenia, the show gave a complicated twist to that terrible condition. 

Different – Verna never existed

Who Is Verna in 'The Fall of the House of Usher'

Verna was an original character created for the show. Such a metaphor for the devil never existed in the short story. I mean, it makes sense. Basically, 90 % of the plot of the show was made up, as well as the majority of characters. Still, I thought it was important to mention Verna specifically since she is such an important character in the series. Some fans who never read the original story might assume that she was an adaptation. 

Similar – Madeline killed Roderick after he assumed she was dead 

madeline not quite dead

At the show’s beginning, we saw how Usher siblings assumed that their mother was dead, only for the poor woman to rise up from her makeshift grave and kill their alleged father. The same thing happened in episode 8. Roderick attempted to kill Madeline and left her body in the basement before ensuring she was completely dead. Madeline ascended the stairs and finished Roderick before dying herself, fulfilling the deal they made with Verna, that they would die on the same day. 

A similar thing happened in the story as well. Madeline eventually succumbed to her mysterious illness and died. At least, the narrator describes her as being cold and stiff but still somewhat “rosy” in cheeks. Turns out that she wasn’t dead after all. She freed herself from her makeshift grave and killed her brother, just like in the show.  

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‘The Fall of the House of Usher’: What Did Eliza Usher Died of & Why She Never Wanted to See the Doctor?

Different – The house slid into the lake after collapsing

Usher house collapsing

We started with the house, and we’re going to end with the house. In the show, in one of the last scenes, we see Auguste Dupin watching over the collapsing Usher house. It crumbles into a pile of debris, ending the curse of the place forever. 

In the story, the narrator witnesses Madeline Usher pulling her brother to the floor as they both die. The house starts collapsing on top of him, and he manages to escape to the outside at the last second. The storm is raging outside, and the wind is howling. He witnesses as the house crumbles into a pile, only to be swallowed by a black lake. 

Did I miss something? Let us know in the comments below!

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