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

Powerful Essays
"The Red Death had long devastated the country. No pestilence had ever been so fatal or so hideous. Blood was its Avatar and it seal - the redness and the horror of blood..." - Edgar Allan Poe (Regarding the plague of the Red Death)

The plague Edgar Allan Poe spoke of in his short story The Masque of the Red Death was one of complete and utter misery that defaced whomever it struck. While this pestilence was surging throughout the country mentioned in the story, a man by the name of Prince Prospero decided to attempt to cheat death out of its cold and icy grip. He along with a group of the most elite of the time closed themselves in one of the Prince's abbeys to try to wait out the death that lurked everywhere outside the castle walls.

Several months after their escape from civilization, Prospero held a masked ball for his friends, when to their utter horror, death made its way in and killed all of the masqueraders. Through this short story, Poe depicts the underlying theme that death is inevitable, and trying to escape it is one of the most futile actions one can do. By reading this piece, the reader gains a lot of insight into the way Poe's mind worked, and the events in his life that inspired him to write in the way that he did. Pieces Poe wrote, such as "The Masque of the Red Death," show the intertwined nature Poe's stories took with his real life situation.

The most profound characteristic surrounding "The Masque of the Red Death" is the symbolism Poe incorporates into even the simplest of elements. Symbolism runs rampant throughout the story, and, to the unaware reader, these gems of Poe's character may be overlooked. The peculiar characteristic about the symbolism Poe depicts is that al...

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...jority did not understand the amount of suffering that went into each and every word.

Works Cited

Bloom, Harold, et al. The Tales of Poe. New York: Chelsea House, 1987.

Broussard, Louis. The Measure of Poe. University Of Oklahoma Press: Norman, 1969.

Burduck, Michael. Grim Phantasms: Fear in Poe's Short Fiction. New York: Garland, 1992.

Dudley, David. "Dead or Alive: The Booby-Trapped Narrator of Poe's 'Masque of the Red Death.'" Studies in Short Fiction. Newberry College, vol. 30 Spring 1993. 169-174.

Halliburton, David. Edgar Allan Poe: A Phenomenological View. Princeton University Press, 2015.

Kesterson, David et al. Critics on Poe. Florida: University of Miami Press, 1973.

Womack, Martha. "The Masque of the Red Death." Publisher: Christoffer Nilsson, 1997. Web. 4 June 2015.
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