Encounters with Death in The Masque of Red Death

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Encounters with Death in The Masque of Red Death

After reading Edgar Allan Poe's "The Masque of Red Death" (317-22), the reader can only conclude that death is the theme once again in another thrilling horror tale. Other critics such as Patricia H. Wheat, view this tale as a battle between life and death (51-56). Yet, Leonard Cassuto brings an interesting theory to this tale--"According to the narrator's own account, no one survives the Red Death. The only one who(lives) is Death. The narrator must be death himself" (317-20). Reflecting back to the various critical analogies on tone, character, and allegory on "The Masque of Red Death" a certain aspect of this work has yet to be defined. The plague that devastated a whole countryside could only be described. Could it be that Poe uses this fiction to chronicle his own encounters with death in his own life? To better understand this viewpoint a short summary is incorporated:

" The Red Death had long devastated the country. No pestilence had ever been so fatal, or so hideous. Blood was its Avatar and it's seal-the redness and the horror of blood. There were sharp pains, and sudden dizziness, and then profuse bleeding at the pores, with dissolution. The scarlet stains upon the body and especially upon the face of the victim was the pest ban, which shut him out from the aid and from the sympathy of his fellow men. And the whole seizure, progress, and termination of the disease were the incidents of half an hour" (Poe 317-22).

In this passage Poe describes a plague that death uses to take its victims. The horrific manner in which the disease appears -- bleeding at the pores, sharp pains, and seizures--can be related back to episodes in...

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...Tales of Mystery and Imagination Norwalk: Heritage P.,1969. 317-322.

Starret, Vincent. "Tales of Mystery and Imagination." Norwalk: Heritage P., 1969. Intro.

Wheat, Patricia H. " The Masque of Indifference in The Masque of Red Death". Stud Short Fiction, 19(1982), 51-56.

Works Consulted

Alton, Laura. "Masque of Red Allegory." 30 Oct.,1999. <>.

Bell, H.H. " The Masque of Red Death An Interpretation." South Atlantic Bulletin. 38 (Nov. 1973) 101-105.

Dudley, Leonard. " The Coy Reaper: Unmasque-ing the Red Death". Stud Short Fiction. 30 (1993), 169-73.

Silk, Richard D. "Poe's The Masque of Red Death". Explicator, 47(1989) 24-26.

Womack, Martha. "Edgar Allan Poe's The Masque of Red Death." 28 Oct. 1999. <>.
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