The Devil and Tom Walker versus The Masque of the Red Death

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Both The Devil and Tom Walker by Washington Irving and The Masque of the Red Death by Edgar Allan Poe were borne of the Romanticism era of literature. The Devil and Tom Walker is about the eponymous Tom Walker selling his soul to the devil in exchange for riches. It was inspired by the legend of Faust, a man who also sold his soul and paid a dire price as a result. In The Masque of the Red Death, a story purportedly inspired by the tuberculosis, Prince Prospero locks himself and a thousand other survivors of the titular Red Death in his castle. Both stories deal with mortality, both protagonists are selfish, and both tales are allegories.
The concept of mortality is truly fascinating, because no one living knows what happens after death. Some choose simply not to think about death’s inevitability, but the realm of the living is rife with reminders of what everyone must become. The stories of Tom Walker and Prince Prospero serve as such reminders to the readers of their macabre tales. In both stories, the protagonists are scared of the prospect of death. The eponymous Tom Walker of The Devil and Tom Walker worries about what will become of the riches accumulated from his deal with The Devil and consequently becomes very pious.His fate is sealed when one day he exclaims “The Devil take me if I have made but a farthing!” at a time when his Bibles are not present. The Devil himself returns and carries him off on a black horse, never to be seen again. In The Masque of the Red Death, however, Prince Prospero decides to just blatantly ignore the inevitability of death. He locks himself and his friends in his castle. All is well until the eve of a grand masque. An uninvited guest intrudes seemingly dressed as the Red Death. Outraged, Pro...

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...of the Red Death does. This “guest” turns out to be the Red Death itself. Said to be inspired by either tuberculosis or the bubonic plague, the Red Death is a perhaps slightly exaggerated version of Death. Just as death does, the Red Death enters undeterred by obstacles designed to stop it. It will find everyone eventually.
The Devil and Tom Walker and The Masque of the Red Death both end with the protagonists dying as a result of their selfish ideations. Two of the many stories spawned during the Romanticism era, both are allegories. They differ in that whilst Tom Walker decides to take the Faustian route to riches and power, Prospero is in an entirely different situation, isolating himself from the outside world to escape the inevitability of death. Both Tom Walker and Prospero are given cruel reminders that, respectively, sin is bad and death cannot be avoided.
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