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Home > Edgar Allan Poe’s Influence on ‘The Fall of the House of Usher’

Edgar Allan Poe’s Influence on ‘The Fall of the House of Usher’

More Than Just Poe’s ‘Fall of the House of Usher’ Short Story Influenced the Series

With Edgar Allan Poe known for his gothic style, director Mike Flanagan (The Haunting of Hill House) weaved Poe’s legacy and style into a contemporary retelling of Poe’s works. With references to his most noted works, Poe’s stories are used in great measure to tell the tale of the Usher family and their inevitable downfall. 

Edgar Allan Poe’s Legacy

Born January 19th, 1809, renowned poet and storyteller Poe continues to be known for his works more than 200 years after his death. Poe incorporated the dark and macabre into his stories. From his spine-chilling tales like “The Tell-tale Heart,” “The Masque of the Red Death,” and “The Cask of Amontillado” to his tragic poems “The Raven” and “Annabel Lee,” Poe knew how to keep his readers biting their nails.

While known for his gothic horror works, Poe also dabbled in detective and science fiction stories. Nicknamed the “Father of the Modern Detective Story” for his 1841 story, “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” Poe inspired authors like Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes. A pioneer of science fiction, Poe wrote stories like “Von Kempelen and His Discovery” before their time.

Referenced Works 

The Fall of the House of Usher references many of Poe’s works and facts surrounding his life. Flanagan cites some of  Poe’s more obscure works, including his unfinished play Politian, embodied by the character Dr. Alessandra Ruiz. Other references include: “The Fall of the House of Usher,” “The Raven,” “The Cask of Amontillado,” “Annabel Lee,” “The Cask of Amontillado,” “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” “The Black Cat,” “The Tell-Tale Heart,” “The Pit and the Pendulum,” “The Masque of the Red Death,” and “The City in the Sea.”

With so many works, only some of his stories and poems are mentioned directly or hinted at as easter eggs. The most notable are “The Fall of the House of Usher” and “The Raven.” Both are alluded to throughout the entire story without fail.

Expertly Woven Together 

The show has an extensive number of references between the eight episodes. Many will recognize some citations to Poe’s most famous works, like “The Raven” and “Annabel Lee.” Weaved purposefully from each episode title to the character names, calls to Poe’s works are the backbone of the Usher family’s fall. Each connection to Poe’s works transforms multiple dark tales into one grisly series.

Sourced from Mike Flanagan’s Source on X, Flanagan said, “We use many of [Poe’s] most famous titles, but also some of the more obscure references. The Fall of the House of Usher is a great title for the show, but that story represents a tiny percentage of what we’re actually doing” about The Fall of the House of Usher. Flanagan confirms that while the show is titled after “The Fall of the House of Usher,” it was only a portion of the story.

Every name in the show relates to Poe, carrying weighted meanings and slighted symbolisms. One of the most notable is Verna, the harbinger of the story. Her name is an anagram for ‘raven,’ inspired by the raven in “The Raven.”

Heavily inspired by Poe’s work, Flanagan created every episode title related to one of Poe’s stories or poems. The first, “A Midnight Dreary,” starts the series off similarly to how “The Raven” started: “Once upon a midnight dreary…” From there, every other episode title referenced a title of one of Poe’s works, the series tying up with “The Raven,’ calling back to the first episode. The episode’s titles also have a double meaning, and as each Usher meets their end, a Poe work is referenced. With deaths inspired by stories like “The Masque of the Red Death,” “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” and “The Black Cat,” each fall of an Usher ties together more of Poe’s works. The specific title references the story that inspired the kill in that episode where a character dies. By doing this, Flanagan plays a bit of cat and mouse with the viewer, letting macabre fans anticipate what comes next as connections tie together.

A Succesful Series Encompassing Poe’s Works

While the show was not a faithful representation of Poe’s stories, The Fall of the House of Usher was a success. With new life breathed into Poe’s tales, thanks to Flanagan and the cast, classic stories became meaningful contemporary retellings. The main cast includes Carla Gugino (Gerald’s Game) as Verna, Bruce Greenwood (Star Trek (2009)) as Roderick Usher, Mary McDonnell (Battlestar Galactica) as Madeline Usher, Henry Thomas (11:14) as Frederick Usher, Kate Siegel (Oculus) as Camille L’Espanaye, Rahul Kohli (iZombie) as Leo Usher, Samantha Sloyan (Midnight Mass) as Tamerlane Usher, T’Nia Miller (The Peripheral) as Victorine LaFourcade, and Sauriyan Sapkota (The Midnight Club) as Perry Usher.

Flanagan’s highly Poe-influenced The Fall of the House of Usher is available on Netflix.

The Fall of the House of Usher (2023) Official Netflix trailer

Source: Dead Talk Live

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Kendra is working on her B.A. in English with a concentration in writing at American Public University System. She enjoys writing stories that open up to a much larger world. She hopes to further her publishing history both in entertainment news and in creative stories.

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I am an aspiring author living and working out of Honolulu, Hawaii. I received my bachelor's degree in Art History at Westmont College and then pursued a master's in Museum Studies at the University of Hawaii. I am currently working on a few novels, and am thankful for the opportunity to expand my creative writing voice at Dead Talk Live.