In The Fall of the House of Usher, the Netflix series of the moment that offers a modern interpretation of Edgar Allan Poe’s short story, director and screenwriter Mike Flanagan gives viewers a work full of subtle references and homages which many may have missed. As the plot explores the origins of siblings Roderick and Madeline Usher, who run a profitable pharmaceutical company, dark secrets from the two’s pasts emerge.
The work is full of obvious references to Poe, but Flanagan’s vision is permeated by subtle homages that some viewers may not have grasped, so here we take over to reveal them all to you.
Tutti gli easter eggs di The Fall of the House of Usher
1) Annabel Lee: a tribute to Poe’s pain
Roderick Usher’s first wife, Annabel Lee, stands as a tribute to one of Edgar Allan Poe’s most famous poems, Annabel Lee. This poignant poem tells of Poe’s eternal love for his young bride, Virginia Clem, and the profound suffering caused by her untimely death. In the series, the character of Annabel Lee, played by Katie Parker, becomes a tangible bridge between Poe’s narrative and Flanagan’s story of the Usher family.
Roderick, on several occasions throughout the series, recites lines from the poem, triggering an emotional connection to the pain Poe experiences. Flanagan’s choice to incorporate this element not only serves as homage, but adds a layer of complexity to Roderick’s character, revealing his inner torment. Despite Annabel Lee in the series does not suffer the tragic fate of its literary counterparthis presence casts a melancholic light on Roderick’s life, parallel to Poe’s immortal grief for his beloved Virginia.
2) The Address of William Longfellow
In the first episode titled A Midnight Dearyviewers are introduced to William Longfellow, played by Robert Longstreet, Eliza Usher’s employer and secretly the father of her children. An intriguing detail that emerges in this plot is Longfellow’s address, 2640, which becomes an interesting link between the series and the life of Edgar Allan Poe.
This number coincides with the address of Poe’s last home in New York, where the famous writer moved in 1844. The house represents a crucial period in Poe’s life, during which he sought isolation and fresh air to care for his wife, who was suffering from tuberculosis. Here, Poe wrote many of his most famous works, including works mentioned as Eureka, The Bellsand naturally, Annabel Lee. Flanagan, by incorporating this detail into Longfellow’s address, creates a tangible link between the characters’ history and the historical context of Poe’s life, adding a level of depth and symbolism to the narrative.
3) The Fortunate di The Fall of the House of Usher
After their mother’s death, Roderick and Madeline Usher take control of the family business, Fortunado. However, the plot gets complicated when an unscrupulous businessman, Rufus Griswold (played by Michael Trucco), inserts himself as an obstacle in the brothers’ plans. This narrative element draws directly from one of Poe’s most famous stories, The Cask of Amontillado.
Fortunado, the name of the company, is a clear homage to the character of Lucky in Poe’s story. Here, Flanagan not only draws inspiration from the original work, but skillfully entangles the characters’ destinies with Fortunato’s fate. In Poe’s story, Fortunato falls victim to an elaborate revenge plan and is walled up alive. This same fate seems to reverberate in the plot of The Fall of the House of Usher, since Fortunado becomes the vehicle through which Griswold, parallel to what happens in Poe’s story, he is trapped.
4) The Usher Children: A Nominal Tribute to Poe’s Universe
Roderick Usher, the patriarch of the protagonist family, is the father of six children, each of whom bears the name of characters present in Edgar Allan Poe’s works. This choice not only gives a touch of originality to the characters of the series, but it is also a profound homage to the work of the master of horror.
The names of the children – Frederick, Tamerlane, Victorine, Camille, Napoleon, and Prospero – are all direct references to Poe’s works. Prospero, for example, is named after Prince de The Masque of the Red DeathCamille is the name of a victim of The Crimes of the Rue Morgue, while Napoleon is inspired by Spectacles. This approach highlights Flanagan’s attention to detail in creating a universe full of literary references, making each name a little enigma for attentive viewers.
5) Il dark guardian of the Usher family
In the nucleus of the Usher family, an intriguing and mysterious character emerges: the family’s trusted lawyer, Arthur Pym, played by Mark Hamill. This character takes on the role of spokesperson for the family, maneuvering skillfully to “solve” anything he might throw a negative light on the Ushers’ public image. The name Arthur Pym is a clear homage to one of Edgar Allan Poe’s most complex and obscene works, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket. In this work, the protagonist Pym embarks on an epic journey across the ocean, facing unimaginable horrors. Flanagan cleverly uses Pym’s name to add a level of mystery and depth to the character, intertwining elements of Poe’s novel with the series’ modern plot.
The use of the name Pym and the plot around this character not only pays homage to Poe’s work, but also adds an element of suspense and intrigue to the narrative of the series.
6) Roderick’s messages in The Fall of the House of Usher
During a crucial meeting with Assistant Prosecutor August Dupin, Roderick Usher receives a series of messages from his niece Lenore (played by Kyleigh Curran). In a touch of sadness, Roderick chooses to ignore Dupin’s insistence that he respond. When Roderick finally reveals that Lenore has passed away that same night, he shows Dupin the messages, revealing that they all contain a spelling error: the constant repetition of the word “Nevermore”. This sequence of messages is an eloquent homage to the famous poem by Edgar Allan Poe, The Raven. In the poem, a distraught narrator is tormented by a talking raven who responds with an unrelenting “Nevermore” to his questions about the possibility to see his beloved Lenore again. Flanagan’s choice to incorporate this theme into the plot of The Fall of the House of Usher adds a touch of melancholy and regret, creating a poignant parallel between Poe’s narrative and Roderick Usher’s personal tragedy.
The repetition of the misspelling in Lenore’s messages, the same keyword as the raven in Poe’s poem, serves as an emotional bridge between Poe’s works and the contemporary story of Flanagan (director and creator of The Haunting of Hill House).
7) Rufus Griswold: the literary rivalry
The name Rufus Griswold takes on a layered meaning in the series. This reference is not just a random coincidence, but an intentional homage to Rufus Wilmot Griswold, a key figure in Edgar Allan Poe’s life. The man was a contemporary of Poe and their relationship it went far beyond a simple competition literary. Initially, the two cooperated and shared a friendly relationship, but the situation turned into a bitter conflict. After Poe’s death in 1849, Griswold became his official biographer, but his biography was far from objective. Griswold depicted Poe as a morally degraded individual, an unstable drunkard and characterless.
The inclusion of the name Rufus Griswold as a character in the series can be interpreted as an underlined tribute to this historic rivalry.