The Masque of the Red Death

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Edgar Allan Poe is considered as a very misunderstood writer. In his short story "The Masque of the Red Death" most critics are still not sure of the true meaning behind it. One such critic, Kermit Vanderbilt tries to relate Poe's story to The Tempest by William Shakespeare. He also writes about a month before "The Masque" was published, Poe looked at artists and their limitations by morality. Vanderbilt continues with his analysis by summarizing the story, focusing on the colors of the rooms in the abbey. It is suggested that Poe may have consciously paralleled his story and Shakespeare's The Tempest. He then goes on to explain the parallels in Poe and Shakespeare's works. Vanderbilt tries to show that Poe kept building on "The Masque" months after its publication with landscape in the story The Landscape Garden. Then Vanderbilt draws lines from Poe's "The Masque", The Landscape Garden and Shakespeare's The Tempest. Finally, the critic writes about Poe's feelings about the 19th Century and what he did with his works to create a sort of paradise. The true meaning is not known of the story; however, Vanderbilt says that "The Masque of the Red Death" maybe related to The Tempest by William Shakespeare. Just reading the story and not looking further into it, you would get the idea that it's all about death and horror, as much of Poe's stories are thought to be. The critic here is saying that much more can is revealed, such as Poe's ideas of beauty and dramatizations of tension of artists of America during that time. Vanderbilt says that a month previous to the publication of "The Masque of the Red Death" Edgar Allan Poe was looking into competition between artists and limits given to them due to morality. With his story, Poe was trying to exceed the limits in a new way, using his imagination to see show us the beauty beyond the grave. Vanderbilt gives a basic summary to readers of the story, focusing on the colors of the chambers in the suit the main character, Prospero, retreats to. Blue, purple, green, orange, white, violet, and black are the colors given in the story. The critic says that the colors, while seemingly meaningless, are actually symbolic of the stages of life. Blue meaning new life, purple meaning life speeding up a bit, green meaning aspiration or youthfulness, orange meaning the middle of your life, white meaning decay and break down, violet meaning cold or aloneness and finally the black room with red windows; which is described with the most detail in the story and the criticism, is related to the plague itself.

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