As expected, Mike Flanagan The Fall of House Usher is steeped in the story of Edgar Allen Poe, as the Netflix horror series takes inspiration from some of the poet’s most popular works. But one of the references is deeper than the others.
In the series, two siblings, Roderick Usher (Bruce Greenwood) and Madeline Usher (Mary McDonnell), run the corrupt company Fortunato Pharmaceuticals. After committing a terrible crime, they make a deadly deal with a supernatural being, Verna, played by Carla Gugino. As the series continues, Verna haunts the siblings and their families, leading to a few unfortunate deaths.
From the first episode, it is clear that Verna is reprising the role of the “raven” from Poe’s poem named after the literary character. Throughout the series, the shapeshifter is paired with images of the bird in various scenes, and at one point she is even shown transforming into the creature. You can’t make it more obvious than that!
In the same way that several characters in the series are named after Poe’s works, such as Nightshade And Annabel Leeand others bear names taken from his other stories, such as C. Auguste Dupin from The Rue Morgue Murders and Napoleon of GlassesVerna shares a name with the literary character she resembles.
That’s right, Verna is an anagram for raven. The two words all contain the same letters, but in a different order. Much like the raven in Poe’s story, Verna is able to put herself in the shoes of her troubled target as she represents death and grief, much like the animal the character is named after.
So! There is more to Flanagan’s show than meets the eye and it would take years to unpack all the glorious Poe references it contains. However, if you ask me, the name Verna is the best, because it takes a little time to understand.
The Fall of House Usher is currently streaming on Netflix.
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