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

The Fall of the House of Usher Was Verna Truly the Devil
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‘The Fall of the House of Usher’ is Mike Flanagan’s latest masterpiece. The show was loosely based on a short Edgar Allan Poe story under the same name and dealt with the fall of a great dynasty that was set to change the world. Somewhere halfway through the series, we get a good feeling that Verna is some kind of supernatural entity with far more powers than the writers are letting on and that she is central to the story. The last episode also revealed that Madeline and Roderick made a definitive deal with Verna, which seems to be the root cause of the huge misfortune that befell the family. So was Verna real, or was she just a figment of Usher’s imagination? 

  • Article Breakdown:
  • Verna was a symbolic figure in the series that represented the biblical Devil. 
  • Her name is an anagram of “Raven,” which is a reference to a famous poem but also an animal associated with the Devil, serving as his messenger. 
  • Verna also had no power to harm the innocents except in the instances where they were part of the deal. Such was the case with Leonore. She made deals and manifested a variety of supernatural powers.

The secret to Verna’s identity lies in her name 

raven fall of the house of usher

It’s natural to expect, when you’re adapting a famous work of Poe that plenty of references to Raven’s will be made. And the same holds true for ‘The Fall of the House of Usher.’ Believe it or not, Verna told Madeline and Roderic exactly what she was the first time they met 40-something years ago.  

You see, Verna is an anagram of Raven. A stuffed Raven was also in the bar where she worked as a bartender. We keep seeing stuffed Ravens in the show, but it’s a lot more than a reference to the famous poem. 

Raven is also an animal often mentioned in mythology as the messenger of the Devil and death. It’s because of their pitch-black feathers and their ominous looks mostly. We also can’t ignore that ravens and crows often circled battlefields, feeding on the dead soldiers, making them perfect symbols of death and decay.  

Verna met Roderick and Madeline at the crossroads 

Verna offering a deal

Well, this part isn’t technically true except in a metaphorical sense. Madeline and Roderick met Verna shortly after killing Rufus Griswold. At that point, their lives were at a crossroads, and Verna met them just at the right time and made them a deal that they couldn’t reject. Those were the metaphorical crossroads because Roderic and Madeline still had enough time to come clean, bury the company, and save tens of thousands of innocent lives.

Instead, they proceeded with a destructive and made a deal with Verna. The one that they initially didn’t take all too seriously, and the one that will end up wiping their whole bloodline. 

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Verna attempted to make other deals

Arthur Pym

In episode 8, we see Arthur Pym staking out the former Usher house to capture this mysterious Verna. She has her in one moment only for her to set herself free through supernatural means and lays the terms black on white for him. 

Verna offered Pym safety, an opportunity to evade prison again if he gave something he loved. Since Arthur truly loved nothing, he had no collateral or leverage to make that deal. Or perhaps he did have something but, in the end, ended up being a bigger person than the Ushers truly were? 

She is omnipresent

The fall of the house of Usher

Verna could shapeshift and seemingly be everywhere at once. She was keeping careful tabs on all Usher family members, as far as 40 years in the back. It doesn’t surprise us that the Devil, or a messenger of the Devil in this case, has both immortality and omnipresence. She was always aware of where the Ushers were and what they were doing at the moment. 

She knew everything about everyone and seemingly witnessed some important events in people’s lives. 

Even if Verna didn’t manifest other supernatural abilities, this was proof enough that she was something otherworldly. 

She is all about free will

fall of the house of usher party

Verna killed many people over the course of the series, but if you think about it, she harmed only the people she was bound to kill as per the deal. To everyone else present that might come in danger, she gave a choice. She gave a choice to the security guards and staff working in that abandoned building on the night of the party because it wasn’t their free choice to be there; they were working. 

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She also gave a choice to Frederick’s wife, who was also reluctant to be there, and unfortunately, she didn’t make the right choice on time. Even though the people who were involved with the original deal were annihilated in the worst ways possible, everyone else she had no power over, and she was compelled to leave them alone, such as Arthur Pym, who refused to make the deal and faced the consequences. 

The Devil is in the details

Leonore Usher

And the last proof that Verna was truly the biblical Devil is the fact that you couldn’t outsmart her. Verna mentioned that Madeline attempted to outsmart her, and then she failed. 

She also mentioned how Roderick was hoping that Leonore would be spared from their deal because she wasn’t the direct product of his loins. But later, she clarified that people always get hung up on what’s in front of them, on the opportunity, and Roderick somehow displaced from his mind the fact that Leonore was also his bloodline and that she wouldn’t be spared from the curse. 

And that’s pretty much it. I’m pretty sure that there are far more references to Verna being the biblical devil in the show that I missed on my first rewatch, so if you have something to add, let us know in the comments below!

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