Death in Edgar Allan Poe's Life and The Masque of the Red Death

Powerful Essays
Death in Edgar Allan Poe's Life and The Masque of the Red Death

As a man surrounded by death and horrible happenings, it is no wonder

that almost the entire collection of Edgar Allan Poe's works is about death.

When Poe was very young, his father left his mother alone with three young

children. At the age of two, Poe lost his mother. Many other deaths and terrible

occurrences manifested themselves in Poe's life, from the refusal of his

adoptive father, John Allan, to accept Poe's attempts at reconciliation, to the

request he could not fulfill of his dying adoptive mother, Fanny Allan. "To a

world fascinated by the bizarre and the macabre, Poe has often seemed an

embodiment of the satanic characters of his own fiction, the archetype of the

neurotic genius" (McMichael 727). Poe's most recognized works are the bizarre

tales of terror, death, decay, and madness. Poe's greatest tale of horror is The

Masque of the Red Death, in which aspects of death are apparent in the title and

the beginning paragraphs, the theme, the symbols, and the ending paragraph of

the tale.

The title of the work contains the direct use of the word death. This

title prepares the readers for the "horrible with no other end than horrible

itself" content that Poe's first tales all produced upon examination (Etienne).

Starting with the title and ending with the last word, The Masque of the Red

Death is a horrific tale about death and destruction. The opening paragraph of

The Masque of the Red Death gives words such as devastated, hideous, and

termination. The description of the effects of the Red Death plague on the

bodies of its victims constructs a terribly frightening incident: "There were


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...lexander, ed. Kennikat Press, 1971.

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Poe, Edgar Allan. Edgar AllanPoe: Poetry and Tales. Ed. Patrick F. Quinn. New York: Literary Classics of the United States, 1984.

Ransome, Arthur. Edgar Allan Poe. A Critical Study New York: Haskell House, 1972.

Ransome, Arthur, ed. "Stories by Edgar Allan Poe" New York: E. P. Dutton and Company, 1908.

Silverman, Kenneth. Edgar Allan Poe: Mournful and Never-ending Remembrance. New York: Harper Collins Publishers, Inc., 1992.

Weiss, Susan Talley. The Home Life of Poe Folcroft, Pa.: Folcroft Library Editions, 1974.

Zayed, Georges. "The Genius of Edgar Allan Poe" Schenkman Publishing Company, Inc., 1985.
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