The Masque Of The Red Death Essay

The Masque Of The Red Death Essay

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Throughout the short story “The Masque of the Red Death,” Edgar Allan Poe uses vivid symbolism, structure, and reoccurring details to paint a powerful image regarding the finality and inescapable reaches of death itself. “The ‘Red Death’ has long devastated the country,” yet the Prince Prospero continues to hold extravagant parties for his fellow elite members of society. Rather than merely telling a series of events, Poe carries his readers throughout the many rooms and scenes that hold the Prince’s masquerade, up until the clock strikes midnight and the partygoers can no longer hide behind their façade, and death comes in to take those that thought themselves invincible (Poe 438-442).
Within this short story, specific details and repeated images are often used to stress the partygoer’s efforts to elude their fate. Death serves as both a prominent figure and symbol through many of Poe’s works, and “The Masque of the Red Death” is no different. Each line, every detail seems to tie into a deeper meaning that carries the reader throughout the story alongside the narrator and partygoers, all the while laden with hints and deeper meanings that progress rapidly toward the awaiting “horror” of death. With the introduction of the story alone, Poe has already set the stage with the background on the horrifying “pestilence” and its effects on the human body. By aptly naming it the “Red Death,” Poe is already conjuring images of the gruesome, painful deaths of history’s great plagues, particularly the black death which nearly shares its name, as well “the redness and the horror of blood” (Poe 438). It is here that the story takes a turn with the introduction of Prince Prospero himself, momentarily placing thoughts of the Red Death on...


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As “The Masque of the Red Death” comes to a close, the details and symbols that Poe has so expertly woven together in such a fluid manner tie neatly together with the final reveal of the Red Death’s figure before the partygoers, which stand in silence as their prince confronts the “spectral image” within “the blue room.” The chase that follows carries the prince and the reader once again through each of the “six chambers” until at last they reach “the velvet apartment” (Poe 441-442). It is there that, as predicted, the prince meets his fate. And then, in that last moment following the clock’s chime, despite the efforts of the prince and his partygoers to avoid their fates for so long, “the presence of the Red Death” must once and for all be “acknowledged,” allowing “Darkness and Decay and the Red Death [to hold] illimitable dominion over all” (Poe 442).

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