The Masque of the Red Death: Symbolism Essay

The Masque of the Red Death: Symbolism Essay

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The author, Edgar Allan Poe, using illusion or misdirection keeps the reader is suspense throughout this story called "The Masque of the Red Death". Symbolism such as the colored rooms, the impressive clock, the feeling of celebration being at a party all makes this story feel like a fairytale. Poe used this fairytale style and converts it into a nightmare in disguise.
In the "Masque of the Red Death," the first sentence, "The Red Death had long devastated the country," sets the tone for the whole story. Poe describes the horrors of the disease, stressing the redness of the blood and the scarlet stains. The disease kills so quickly that one can die within thirty minutes of being infected with the disease. To create a frightening effect of the revulsion of this disease, Poe uses words such as "devastated," "fatal," "horror of blood," and "sharp pains and profuse bleeding." In summary, the story relates the prince, trying to be safe and away from the horrible death, invites a thousand friends to be in seclusion in his abbey away from the disease. During a celebration , a masked ball at the abbey - with incredible described rooms and moods - a surprise masked intruder causes death to all.
The characters in “The Mask of the Red Death” include Prince Prospero (who is the only person that speaks in the story), a multitude (a thousand) of the Prince’s wealthy friends, and the masked figure, which doesn’t appear until the end of the story. Prince Prospero’s name signifies happiness and good-fortune. Ironically, this is not the tone of the story. The prince is an unusual man with strange tastes. “His plans were bold and fiery, and his conceptions glowed with barbaric luster". After half of his dominions were killed by the disease is...


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... bury the dead, which indicates its strong relationship with the non-living. Although the figure lures the Prince (and eventually all of his guests) to his death, I did not feel the figure was evil. Its actions brought redemption to the peasants who were deserted by their wealthy leaders. The horror that will lead to the end of their fantasy is not realized until the masked figure displays signs of the Red Death. “His vesture was dabbled in blood- and his broad brow, with all the features of the faces, was besprinkled with the scarlet horror.”
Human happiness is represented by the Prince, who seeks to block or prevent the threat of death however death will come to all. The symbolism of the clock, hour by hour, minute by minute, the life of the ebony clock slowly dies. The ticking or chimes of the clock is a reminder to all of the limited time left before death.

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The Masque of the Red Death: Symbolism Essay

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