If you’ve seen Netflix’s The Fall of the House of Usher, you’ve probably wondered who Verna is supposed to be. A quick google search will say that her name is an anagram of the word ‘Raven’, in reference to Poe’s best-known poem. But this is a surface-level interpretation. Just as the show is an anthology of Poe’s work, Verna is an amalgam of entities; including the Roman deity Laverna, the goddess of thieves, cheats and the underworld, whom Poe mentions in ‘The Murders in the Rue Morgue’. This is why she is depicted with history’s most notorious tycoons. The implication is that they too made a Mephistophelean agreement with Laverna, just as Roderick Usher does.
But this is not all. Verna is also representative of a figure that haunts almost all of Poe’s work. Camille Paglia calls her the ‘numinous women’, and argues that Poe introduces her to American literature, thereby daemonising it. The ‘numinous woman’ is an aspect of the mother archetype — which is why, for instance, Verna seems to have always been there. ‘The narrator cannot remember when or where he met her: she is the mother-shadow at the door of infant memory’.