This tale by Poe appeared first in Burton's Gentlemen's Magazine in 1839. Although much of Poe's language can be characterized as "outdated," or "archaic" today, his vision of gloom and dread still shines through in this well-known work.
Through a series of descriptions of the house, the tarn (or lake), below the house, the servants, the doctor that is passed in the hallway, and the twin Usher siblings, Poe sets the stage for an exciting and worthwhile conclusion that addresses the subjects of madness and loss.
The friend that is summoned to the house by Roderick Usher, the main character, has good intentions at first, but soon he realizes that he is too late to prevent whatever is going to happen. Pulled in by his misplaced trust in Roderick, he agrees to carry the body of Roderick's sister down into a vault that was once a gunpowder bolt-hole. They leave her there.
Then, they pass the time painting and drawing. It is during this part that Roderick sings a most peculiar song concerning the angels and times long ago--and also the adversary of the angels--or what Poe calls the giant worm that eats at mankind, thereby making an obtuse reference to Satan. This song alone is a masterpiece of poetry that is worth as much a read as "The Raven," the more famous of Poe's work.
Upon an evening sometime after they have put the sister in the tomb, Roderick begins to succumb to what Poe terms as nervous habits. But the implication is that he is slowly going insane. To sooth him, the guest reads from a romantic novel in which a hero kills a dragon (another reference to the devil). After each part, a sound resembling what happened in the novel is heard, but faintly. Soon enough, all of this comes to a crescendo, and coupled with an eerie swamp gas storm, builds suspense to unmanageable heights.
Roderick, now in the depths of illness, realizes his mistake.
The Fall of the House of Usher has been made into numerous films, all of which seem to be offshoots from the original storyline and embellish the plot to some degree. While this helps fill time, it doesn't reflect the mastery of Poe's work in any significant way. Finding a truly faithful screen version of this work is tough. Then again, there are some things that can be achieved in the written word that a movie just can't touch.