Symbolism in The Masque of the Red Death

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Edgar Allen Poe, in the short story “The Masque of the Red Death”, shows how people may try to outsmart death and surpass it, but in the end they will die since death is inevitable. He reveals this in the book by showing all the people closed up in the abbey that belongs to Prince Prospero. They are trying to escape the “Red Death” and think that they can escape the death by hiding away in the abbey. They manage to stay safe for six months but in the end they all die after the stroke of midnight during the masquerade ball Prince Prospero puts on from the Red Death itself which appears after midnight and leaves no survivors in the end. Poe develops the theme of how no one can escape death through the use of the point of view, the setting, and symbolism.

Poe develops his theme that no one can escape death through the narration or in general the narrator. We do not know nor do we learn who tells the story even at the end when all the people are stated to have died. There are many ways to look at this to see if we can get some hint to who is the narrator. Is the narrator a person that was there in the abbey which is hard to see because we read at the end that all of the people die but as David Dudley states in his article, “He reveals himself overtly only three time. . .” which shows that he had to be in the abbey . It also can be told by “…one of Prospero’s dying guests…last sentence could be read as the equivalent of Hamlet’s…” which could also have been possible (Dudley). Either way, when death comes at the end no one can escape it unless it is death itself.

Poe continues to develop his point that no one escapes death through the setting. Not only does he use the exterior and how it was constructed to tell what precautions P...

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Poe, Edgar Allan. “The Masque of the Red Death” Literature An Introduction to Reading and Writing. ED. Edgar V Roberts and Robert Zweig. Boston, Longman: 2012. 516-519.

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