The Theme Of Death In The Masque Of The Red Death

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JOSE VALLEJO The Masque of the Red Death [unformatted] Over the course of history, death has played a very integral part in literature, art, and human life in general. Portrayed by any in a very wide array of styles and techniques, one overarching theme that usually comes along with the use of death is the very simple, yet very existential one; “no man escapes death.” This theme is very apparent in the short story The Masque of the Red Death by Edgar Allan Poe. The work is about a strange “plague” that has been overcoming the kingdom of a prince known as Prospero, a prince with a rather ironic and unfortunate name, whom rather than addressing the issue of this plague, decided to isolate himself in his kingdom and “escape” this death that…show more content…
Poe uses the simple, yet effective technique of allotting the main character with a name that foreshadowed their fate. In this case, Prospero, a king whose name is symbolic and allusive to the word prosperity, is the ruler of a country that has been overcome by an unstoppable plague that is quickly and surely killing his subjects. This leads him to recede into the safe isolation of his kingdom, theoretically keeping him safe from the plague. His isolation allows him to prosper and thrive, safe from the death of that has overcome the outside world. For the first half of the piece, his name is very fitting seeing as how he has managed to escape the grasp of this plague, host a massive ball, and keep his health and wealth all too himself while everyone outside of his doors suffered. But very quickly we see his name from being very appropriate, to grossly ironic. A name symbolic of his prosperity and ability to thrive suddenly becomes the situational irony that separates this story of a prince and his ball from the others. Poe creates a major twist in the story when the uninvited guest enters the party. Prospero goes from being the “big man on top”, to being an angry party host trying to get rid of a party-crasher. What Prospero isn’t aware of is that pretty soon his prosperity is going to be cut short and much like…show more content…
Man has always told stories of his attempt of escaping death, but surely enough is met with an untimely fate, and this story is no different. A major symbol of this is a very large pendulum clock that resides in the black room at the end of the hall. Like most large pendulum clocks, this one would produce a loud sound every hour on the hour. In fact, the sound of this clock was so loud that during the ball, every time it chimed, the party would come to a halt and the music would pause until the reverb of the clocks chime came to a halt. This clock is a very clear symbol of death, as intended by Poe. With its constant chiming every hour, reminding the guests that as time passes, death is getting closer and closer. As the night passes, the clock periodically stops the party until the uninvited guest arrives, leading Prospero to stop everything at the wave of his hand. It was midnight when the guest symbolic of the Red Death arrived as stated by Poe; “But now there were twelve strokes to be sounded by the bell of the clock; and thus it happened, perhaps, that more of thought crept, with more of time, into the meditations of the thoughtful among those who revelled. And thus, too, it happened.” Not only had the clock been counting down the hours until his arrival, but also the time is very significant- Midnight. A time recognized as the ‘witching’ hour by many due to its nature of

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