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Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Masque of the Red Death”

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Introduction

Edgar Allan Poe's "The Masque of the Red Death" Edgar Allan Poe's "The Masque of the Red Death" is an allegorical tale of horror. The Red Death is a plague which "had long devastated the country." In an attempt to avoid contracting the horrible disease, Prince Prospero invites a thousand friends to "one of his castellated abbeys." Here they are isolated from the outside world. Inside they lived in luxury and security, outside was the Red Death. In an allegorical interpretation of the story, Prince Prospero represents human happiness and good fortune. Symbolism is a vital part of the allegory; blood, the seven rooms and the clock are major examples. They help develop the theme that death holds "illimitable dominion over all." "Scarlet stains upon the body and especially upon the face" indicate the presence of the Red Death. ...read more.

Middle

through the seven rooms until he confronts him in the last apartment. Here the Prince dies and is followed by all his companions. This is symbolic of the Prince going through life to his death, in the final chamber of eternal night. The east to west arrangement of the rooms also relates to the seven stages of life. The sun rises in the east giving birth to a new day, and sets in the west bringing forth darkness. Light is recognized as a symbol for life while darkness signifies death. The fire also adds to this idea. "In the western or black chamber the effect of the fire light that streamed upon the dark hangings through the blood tinted panes was ghastly in the extreme, and produced so wild a look upon the countenances of those who entered, that there were few of the company bold enough to set foot within its precincts at all." ...read more.

Conclusion

The appearance of the Red Death at midnight is also appropriate. Twelve o'clock, the witching hour is associated with death. This marks the end of the day and the end of life for the Prince and his companions. The Prince, who was supposed to protect his people, secludes himself from the inhabitants of his land. Ironically he meets the same fate as those he so desperately avoided. The name Prince Prospero also lends some irony to the story, as the Prince did not enjoy much prosperity at the end of the tale. It may be hard to prove, but there is solid evidence to support this tale of horror as an allegory. Blood, the rooms and the clock are few examples of symbolism in the story. The theme, as all in the palace learned, is that no one can escape death. No matter what precautions one may take, death is inevitable. ...read more.

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