Analysis Of Edgar Allen Poe's The Masque Of The Red Death

Good Essays
In 1842, Edgar Allen Poe releases is grotesque short story “The Mask of the Red Death: A Fantasy” in the Philadelphian magazine Graham 's Magazine. Poe later printed a revised this piece for the New York Broadway Journal in 1845, with the new and current name of “The Masque of the Red Death.” The classic tale of affluence and pestilence opens to the narcissistic and probably mad Prince Prospero distracting his chosen attendees from the “Red Death” plague currently ravaging his kingdom. The host and guests revel in the seven vivaciously sumptuous rooms; except for the last room adorned in black and scarlet, in which “there were few of the company bold enough to set foot within its precincts at all.” The only continuous presence in this sinister…show more content…
A. Poe through many of his tales focuses on developing the perfect aesthetic to match the emotion elicited in the text. Through his “Masque of the Red Death,” Poe seeks to elicit the feeling of dread and impending fate among his audience. A common motif in Poe’s writing, isolation, adds to the feeling of helplessness concocted in the virulent tale. In an article discussing new psychological perspectives on Poe, James Gargano expands upon Poe’s manipulation of his audience through isolation. Gargano on David Saliba’s research states, “Unable to escape from the imposed circumscription and confinement, the reader succumbs to the logic and plausibility of the appalling and circumstantial tale told by Poe or his narrator. Thus “stunned” into belief, the reader identifies with the victim’s anguish and, in turn becomes victimized” (6). The ploy of this motif draws the audience in causing them to empathize with Poe and/or the Narrator, whom will be expounded upon later in the analysis. Isolation may be the underlying aesthetic in the tale, yet it is not the only aesthetic utilized to horrify the audience. Atmosphere is a common focal point for Poe; “The Masque of the Red Death” is an exceptional example of this concept. The masquerade is situated in seven color coordinated adjoining rooms. Carl Jung would significance of this focus of “seven” rooms; from the powerful image educe with the specific number seven, down to the auras produced from the precise colors of these rooms. The…show more content…
The character list is short, but also relative to the view taken on the story. To begin with Prince Prospero and the Red Death are the defining characters of this tale, but time is also a major proponent in the plot. Time is embodied in the clock located in the final room, and is even personified through the story “there came from the brazen lungs of the clock a sound which was clear and loud and deep and exceedingly musical” (Poe 345). The clock is a reminder to the revelers of the rational reality waiting for all of them in the end; and in this sense is a depiction of the ego reigning in the ids of the revelers and Prince Prospero. Yet, still with the constant reminder of the looming morality; the ids continue their vivacious party. The last person to actually cease in revelry is Prince Prospero, whom only halts for the Red Death. Prospero utilizes the opulence of the masquerade to feed his Freudian desires as an id, and to displace his thanatophobia or fear of death. In this sense, could the masquerade be a dream of a Prince’s anxiety over protecting his kingdom and self from an ominous plague? The dream-like descriptions of the gathering and the narrator being slightly ambiguous intensifies this concept of a false reality created by Poe. The constructed dream does not cease until the Red Death makes itself known to the ids denying times inevitability. Death
Get Access