Study Questions for Poe
"The Raven"
"The Fall of the House of Usher"

New questions are here!!!

"The Raven”

1. "The Raven" caused a sensation when it was first published in 1845.  What explains its popularity, do you think?

2. The italicized introductory note explains the metrical innovation of the poem.  What does this introduction say about the meter, particularly in regard to the second line in most verses?  Give examples.

3. What evidence do you find that the persona of the poem is highly impressionable and perhaps not so objective a narrator?

4. What do you think the raven represents?  Why?


1.  What similarity do you find between the subjects of  "The Raven" and the short story "Ligeia"?

2. What are the narrator's feelings toward Ligeia?  How does he describe her and what do these descriptions suggest about his character?

3. How does the quotation attributed to Joseph Glanville comment on the action of the story?  Besides in the epigraph, where else does this quote appear, and what is its significance each time?

4. Why does the narrator marry Rowena?  How does he feel about her, and why?

5. How do the decorations in the bridal chamber reflect the narrator's psychological state?

6. How do we explain the bizarre and horrific ending of the story?

"The Fall of the House of Usher"

1. What feelings does the narrator have when he looks at the House of Usher?  Can he explain what causes these

2. Why has the narrator come to visit this house?  What is his relationship to its proprietor, Roderick Usher?

3. What is unusual about the history of the Usher family?

4. What does the narrator notice about the air surrounding the house?  Does he trust his observation?  What does
    he notice about the stones in the walls?

5. What kind of illness does Roderick suffer from?  What are his symptoms?

6. What kind of illness does his sister Madeline Usher have?  What are her symptoms?

7. What are the qualities of Roderick's paintings?  What example does the narrator describe?  What do you think
    it means?

8. In Roderick's song "The Haunted Palace" the narrator says he first perceived Roderick's awareness of "the
    tottering of his lofty reason upon her throne."  What does the narrator mean?  What story does the song tell?
    What is the meaning of this story and what does it suggest about Roderick's mental state?

9. What opinion does Roderick express about the "sentience" of his family mansion?  What is the evidence of this
    sentience and what is its possible cause?

10. After Madeline's death, why does Roderick decide to keep her body temporarily in one of the walls of the

11. What fact is revealed about the relationship between Madeline and Roderick, when the narrator and Roderick
    place Madeline in this temporary tomb?

12. What behavior does Roderick exhibit in the days following this temporary burial?  What effect does his
    behavior have on the narrator?

13. On the stormy night about a week later, what does Roderick see out the window that terrifies him?  How does
    the narrator explain this phenomenon rationally?

14. Why does the narrator read a book to Roderick?  What book does he choose and why?  What kind of story
    does it tell?

15. What correspondences take place between the plot of the story the narrator reads and sounds in Usher's
    house?  What are the causes of these sounds?

16. If Roderick knew that his sister was alive in the tomb, why didn't he release her?

17. In what ways does the conclusion of Poe's story relate to the title "The Fall of the House of Usher"?  What is
    the light that the narrator sees shining though the crack in the mansion?  How does this crack recall the
    description of the mansion at the beginning of the story?

to the top...

Back home...