6 Lesson Plans for “The Fall of the House of Usher”


These “Fall of the House of Usher”  lesson plans are perfect for Halloween. They also make a great alternative to cheesy love poems around Valentine’s Day.

*Here’s a lesson plan that will help you get off to a good start* when teaching “The Fall of the House of Usher.” It’s a free pdf download and part of the “Fall of the House of Usher” unit plan.

“Fall of the House of Usher” Lesson Plans

Fall of the House of Usher Lesson Plans


  1. Gothic Horror and Fiction. Here are some notes on Gothic horror. You'll want to review them and look for specific examples while reading, assuming you want to get all literary up in this "House of Usher."
  2. The opening of the story is one of Poe's more memorable, but you're gonna lose a lot of readers if you don't help them get an understanding of Poe's style. I've thrown in a Paraphrasing the Masters lesson plan  to help you with this. For more "Fall of the House of Usher" Lesson Plans, click.
  3. Poe establishes a dreary, ominous mood. How? Instruct students to create a web. In the center circle, write the mood of the story--dreary or sullen, for example. Create 20 circles connected to the middle one and write a word in each circle that contributes to the mood. Depending on how deeply you wish to explore the importance of word choice, you could do the following: (1) write a separate story using the twenty words; (2) complete another web diagram, but change the mood in the center circle and change the connecting words. Create a parody of "The Fall of the House of Usher."
  4. Teach suspense by adapting this "Black Cat" lesson plan.
  5. Imagine if you live tweeted your visit to Roderick Usher's house. You'd probably gain a lot of followers. Have students write the goings-on at the House of Usher with a series of comments, 140 characters or less.
  6. Ever wonder how different this story would be if Roderick or Madeline told it? See what your students come up with a different point of view.

"Fall of the House of Usher" Summary

The story opens as the narrator approaches the "melancholy House of Usher," which has fallen in disarray and is located in what appears to be the creepiest location on Earth. The narrator explains that he has received an odd letter from an old friend, Roderick Usher, requesting his presence. Usher is suffering from numerous illnesses, both mental and physical.

Roderick Usher and his twin sister Madeline are the last two Ushers in a long line of Ushers whose family tree has never branched. The phrase "House of Usher" refers to both the house and the family. Roderick excitedly welcomes the narrator. They talk. The narrator learns that Roderick's sister is near death. The narrator spends several days attempting to cheer up Roderick, but is unable. Roderick suggests it's the house that's making him sick, something the narrator already suspected.

Madeline dies. Roderick puts her in a temporary tomb underneath the house, not wanting doctors to examine his dead sister. Over the next few days, Roderick's agitation grows. Unable to sleep, he approaches the narrator's room late at night. The narrator tries to calm Roderick down by reading to him. As he reads, the narrator hears sounds that correspond to the story he is reading. Roderick claims to have heard those noises since Madeline's burial, who is standing at the door, bloodied after struggling out of her tomb.

Roderick dies from fear. The narrator escapes. The house crumbles into the tarn.

Lesson Objectives

These assignments cover the following ELA common core standards for reading and writing.  This is for your administrator, not your kids.  Kids need student-friendly worded objectives.

  1. RL.9-10.1 Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
  2. RL.9-10.2 Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.
  3. RL.9-10.3 Analyze how complex characters (e.g., those with multiple or conflicting motivations) develop over the course of a text, interact with other characters, and advance the plot or develop the theme.
  4. RL.9-10.5 Analyze how an author's choices concerning how to structure a text, order events within it (e.g., parallel plots), and manipulate time (e.g., pacing, flashbacks) create such effects as mystery, tension, or surprise.
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