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For many high school readers, horror and supernatural fiction are genres that maximize engagement with literature. “The Fall of the House of Usher” by Edgar Allan Poe features elements consistent with both genres: a Gothic mansion, psychological deterioration, heightened emotions, grim imagery, and more. With this challenging worksheet composed of high-order questions, English teachers will help students extend beyond basic reading comprehension, support the development of close reading analysis skills, and save valuable time at home without sacrificing quality and rigor in the classroom. An answer key and copy of the public domain short story are included. Materials are delivered in printable Word Document and PDF formats. By completing this close reading activity, students will:

  • Identify what the text states explicitly and implicitly
  • Explore dominant character traits and motivations
  • Examine how complex characters think, behave, and interact
  • Determine the greater significance of a given detail
  • Apply knowledge of various sound and literary devices including alliteration, personification, euphemism, foreshadowing, situational irony, hyperbole, epiphany, juxtaposition, and more
  • Articulate the intended effects of various sound devices, literary devices, and figurative expressions
  • Analyze Poe’s use of descriptive language to infer the author’s intent
  • Conduct brief research on Swiss painter Henry Fuseli to develop greater understanding of Poe’s allusion to him
  • Explore the connection between the plot of the short story and the content of the poem titled “The Haunted Palace”
  • Examine how the author successfully intensifies suspense in the context of a passage
  • Analyze the connotative significance of the narrator’s labeling Roderick a hypochondriac
  • Identify details that contribute to a dreamlike or nightmarish atmosphere
  • Discern the functions of particular details
  • Make logical inferences about the resolution
  • Defend claims and ideas with reasoned thinking and relevant textual evidence
  • Write ideas with clarity, accuracy, and precision