The Masque of The Red Death
“The Masque of the Red Death”
The story begins with a description of a plague, the “Red Death,” which has been devastating the country for a long time. The narrator explains the process of the disease, emphasizing the redness of the blood and the scarlet stains. The disease is so deadly that one is dead within thirty minutes after he or she is infected. Poe uses such descriptive words like fatal, horror of blood, sharp pains, profuse bleeding, and victim creating an immediate effect of the horror of death caused by the “Red Death.” Poe then presents the tone of the story as Prince Prospero, a name that implies happiness and prosperity, summons a thousand of his “lighthearted friends” from the nobility to join him in a “castellated abbey” which has strong and lofty walls and “gates of iron.” The prince has very foresighfully provided entertainment of all types, and they are all happy and secure within, while outside the “Red Death” is violently spreading. Poe next shows us his theme by suggesting the recklessness of these foolish people who think that they can escape death by putting physical barriers between them and the plague. Poe also has a lot of symbolism in this story one of them being the last room. The importance of the seven rooms lies in the seventh.
The narrator describes the each rooms, telling us that the window panes look out onto the hall rather than the outside world, and that they take on the colors and hues of the decoration of each room. All the rooms are identified by color except for the last one which is different. In the last room (seventh) the apartment is “shrouded in black velvet,” but the panes are “scarlet — a deep blood-color.” Moreover, this black chamber is the most westerly and “the effect of the firelight upon the blood-tinted panes is ghastly in the extreme and produces so wild a look upon the countenance of those who enter it that there are few . . . bold enough to set foot within it.” Therefore, the significance of the seventh room cannot escape the reader’s attention. Black usually symbolizes death, and it is mostly used in connection with death. Furthermore, in describing the black decor of the room, the narrator says that it is shrouded in velvet, shrouded being a word always referring to death. When the masked “Red Death” makes his appearance, he moves rapidly from the Eastern room, symbolizing the beginning of life, to the Western room, symbolizing the end of life. “The Masque of the Red Death” had many devices but this four are in my opinion the most important ones.
The Significance of the Motif of Denial in The Masque of the Red Death, a Short Story by Edgar Allan Poe
Denial in “The Masque of the Red Death”
The motif of denial in “The Masque of the Red Death” by Edgar Allan Poe is important because it helps the reader understand how the prince and his guests can party while the rest of the world is dying. Their denial also makes their realization that they can’t escape the Red Death much more dramatic. One way the reader is shown their denial is when the story reveals that they believe “the external world could take care of itself” and “In the meantime it was folly to grieve, or to think” (1). The story also says that the abbey they take refuge in has “such precautions the courtiers might bid defiance to contagion” (1). In those lines the reader is shown that the prince and his guests choose to deny that the world is helpless and that despite being within the secured abbey they can still be infected by the Red Death.
The narrator says the “prince. . .provided all the appliances of pleasure” (1). Those pleasures serve to keep them busy and enable them to remain in denial of the horrendous situation. When a person goes in denial it’s because there’s a truth that to them seems so terrible they’d rather not accept it as a truth. Consequently, when the people see a man with the Red Death they’re deeply offended because they have now been reminded of the very truth that they deny, that regardless of being within the abbey, there’s still a chance they can contract the Red Death and die. Despite seeing this man, their denial goes so far that they prefer to believe the man wears a “mask” that’s “made. . . to resemble the countenance of a stiffened corpse” (4). The prince decides to deny the truth calling the supposed insinuation of the alleged masked figure, that the red death was inside the abbey, “blasphemous mockery” (4).
Therefore, in the end when the truth can no longer be denied and everyone realizes the Red Death is within the abbey, the people’s awakening is pricelessly dramatic. Without the motif of denial in “The Masque of the Red Death” the audience would not understand how the prince and his guests can party while the world falls apart, nor would they be treated to such a dramatic awakening.
Review of the Masque of The Red Death, By Edgar Allan Poe
Darkness that Surrounds the World
The world is wrapped in a thick, black veil that hangs anonymously above, coating the world in darkness. In Edgar Allan Poe’s short story, The Masque of the Red Death, published in 1842, Poe writes another gripping Gothic horror story describing this ever looming darkness. In this short story, Prince Prospero and thousands of his friends, lock themselves away in Prospero’s castle to escape a deadly pestilence. There is an extravagant party to forget the disease, and while the guests swirl about the ballroom, an unexpected visitor appears. This visitor embodies the sickness that Prospero tries to escape. Through symbolism, Poe contributes to a macabre mood filled with darkness and the stench of the ever approaching death. The symbols include; the rooms, the clock, and the uninvited guest.
The world in the Masque of the Red Death is infested with a sickness that threatens those who encounters it and Poe’s metaphors reflect this mood. Prince Prospero locks himself away to avoid such a tragic death. He puts on grand show in and even grander castle. Inside, it is a winding labyrinth with seven rooms of seven different colors. The first room is decorated entirely in blue. As partygoers wander room from room, the colors and decorations of each room also change. In the final room, an exception to all the rest is a black room where no light enters. In “this chamber only, the color of the windows failed to correspond with the decorations. The panes here were scarlet—a deep blood color” (2). The rooms begin with blue decorations, the color of birth, and end in black and blood red, the universal symbol for death. The rooms represent the path from birth to death. No light comes through any of the windows, because you cannot see what will happen in life. You travel along life in darkness until you reach the end. On the wing opposite of the winding halls from life to death, there lies a pendulum; a swinging clock counting down the days of life.
The very symbol of death can be found in a clock that is ticking, counting the days, the minutes, the seconds until live are taken. In Prospero’s castle there is a massive clock swinging a huge pendulum. Every hour the guests pause their celebration to listen to the chiming of this clock. When the sounds become silent, the people continue their foolish escapade. As the sound of the midnight hour becomes silent, “individuals in the crowd who had found leisure to become aware of the presence of a masked figure which had arrested the attention of no single individual before” (3). The midnight hour marks the end of a day. It is the symbolic witching hour where ghastly creatures crawl from their hidden crevices. At the end, people see the mysterious man standing uninvited in their festivities. The time stops and the cloth over their eyes reveals the death that sits patiently by, waiting until there is no more time lift and it can drag you down to its domain.
Death is an unavoidable force that looms over all in many different forms and throughout all the years in existence. Prospero attempts to shield himself from the death and horror that dwells outside his pristine castle. Death cracks his boney fingers and climbs into the world of the living to take the lives of Prospero and his friends. For these people, death took on a form of person infected with the disease they feared the most; the Red Death. When he makes his appearance in the ballroom, “his vesture was dabbled in blood—and his broad brow, with all the features of the face, was besprinkled with the scarlet horror” (3). The figure first appears in the blue room, the room of birth. Even at the beginning of a life, death is present. Prospero follows death through each room, going through all the many stages of life. The figure stops at the black room, and Prospero falls dead. There is no escape to death. It is a constant presence that joins your life at birth and only makes a star appearance when it’s time to steal that life away.
Edgar Allan Poe uses items and people as a metaphor to contribute to horrifying and gruesome atmosphere. The corridors of Prospero’s mansion weave a complex maze that leads to darkness at the end. As time ticks away, the clock chimes until the very last hour when death will arrive to take its prize. Death is an intangible thing that is always present until it takes on a moral from and creeps up from the shadows to steals the very thing that kept death away. As the dark veil thickens with the inevitable truth of death, a light shines, but all lights are put out by the darkness that death carries on a black steed.
A Literary Analysis of My Favorite Novels Life of Frederick Douglass; An American Slave, Rip Van Winkle, and The Masque of the Red Death
Literature is one of the most enjoyable pieces of arts in life; therefore a brief adventure into my three Favourites and the least favourite topic of literature this term will show you how they magically blew my mind by exposing it to the beauty of literature. Therefore, this short analysis explores my favourites novels that is “ Life of Frederick Douglas; An American Slave, Rip Van Winkle by Washington Irvin and Poe’s Masque of the Red Death and three other novels that are not my favourite.
My Favourite Readings
Life of Frederick Douglas who is depicted as an American Slave, Rip Van Winkle and Poe’s Masque of the Red Death have been my best favourite reading topics of literature this term. The life of Frederick Douglas an American Slave is my favourite because it narrates a tale of survival against all odds underwent by Douglass in person and the rest of the slaves in the plantations during the dark era of slavery in America. He describes his birth associated with rape of his mother and the subsequent parentage which was robed form from early age. In addition, he categorically describes the prevailing conditions of slavery at the time as barbaric, cruel, inhuman and evil in the eyes of a race claiming to be civilised and next to God. For example, he describes the common practices and habits of the white slave masters as that of cruel torture and in humane treatment by assault, battery, murder, raping of black slave women for sexual satisfaction and the expansion of their slave numbers. He talks of the Christian religious hypocrisy of preaching water and taking wine to justify the white superiority over the black slaves for example as illustrated in his quote that he was hateful of the hypocritical nature of Christianity of the land as that of fraud and defamation of God. Throughout several chapters, he gives a vivid description of the horrors he faced from one slave master to the other and the ultimate escape to freedom (Douglass 10).
Rip Van Winkle is an American short story basing on European history, legends and myths. It is a story about a simple minded easygoing man called Rip who is a henpecked husband his nagging wife. Rip resides in the Catskill Mountains village. While hunting in the mountains Rip meets an explorer who intoxicates him voluntary and goes into a deep sleep only to wake up after twenty years have elapsed. On returning to his village, HE finds that things have changed for the worst (Donnelly 3). Therefore, the story is my favourite because it depicts a moral lesson that change is always inevitable and should be welcomed and those who stand in the way of change will always suffer the consequences.
Lastly, the story of Poe’s Masque of the Red Death is my last favourite. It is a short story of fantasy where Prospero prince and other wealthy nobles hide in their abbey in an attempt to eliminate a plague called red death. The prince with other nobles organise a masquerade ball where unfortunately the prince and other guests die after a disguised mysterious figure called red death attacks them when the prince confronted it. It’s my favourite because it illustrate how it is the common nature of people try to mystify certain diseases as associated with evil, yet it is not (Poe 3).
The Least Favourite Readings
A Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson is one of the least favourites. Rowlandson as American woman at the era of colonialism was kidnapped after being captured by the native Indians during an attack. She was held captive for 11 weeks. She explains her ordeal events that she saw and experienced during her captivity until her ultimate results. The story is my least favourites because it was written in the first person narration, partly objective because the writer describes her feelings and thoughts thus making the story emotional and very boring (Rowlandson 2).
The second story is the Narrative of Cabeza deVaca. It describes the travelling adventures of Cabeza as the first European to travel on foot across North America. On the course of his travelling he acted as a faith healer to the natives and a trader. He further gives a vivid description of the native America that is the culture, traditions and way of life before, and during colonisation era. It is my least readings because of it anthropological historical accounts that are not captivating and enjoyable to me (Cabeza 2).
Lastly of the least readings is the Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano. It is a story of Equiano on how he was captured into slavery first as a slave for his fallow African and then his journey through the trans-Atlantic slave trade route to the new world of America. He describes the cruelty of the travelling on the ships packed and piled like wood. The story is not all that touching as it was written through imagination and research (Equiano 4).
Personal Impact of Masque of the Red Death
Masque of the Red Death, written by Bethany Griffin, is, as the title suggests, based on the work of the same name by Edgar Allan Poe. It follows a girl named Araby Worth, and shows us how life has become in her city during a plague. Society has crumbled, and Prince Prospero is at the head of it all, holed away in his castle as the city slowly dies.
Araby’s father has given the world its only hope in the form of masks which are able to block the contagion, but the prince restricts their production, and refuses to let him fix an error which only allows each mask to work for the first person who breathes through its filter. Araby herself is suffering from a deep depression brought on by the death of her twin brother, Finn, due to the prince sending soldiers out to murder the sick. Due to his death, she has sworn never to experience any pleasure that he didn’t get to. This includes everything from holding hands to kissing. Her best friend, April, the prince’s niece, is the only one who knows most of the details of this vow, and wants to get her to break it and live. Part of her efforts to do this is to take Araby to a club owned by Prospero, the Debauchery District. Their visits eventually lead to Araby getting to know a bouncer named Will that works at the club, and later, April’s brother, Elliott. This book has certainly had an impact on me, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t things I would change about it.
This book has made it clear to me that any sort of story can become a published work, whether it be an idea triggered by some other work or not. It is obviously heavily based on Poe’s work, but it brings so much of its own charm and ideas to the table that it is truly its own creature. It was the first novel I’ve read in a long while that I truly felt myself losing track of time because of how absorbed I was with the story. This was, at least, until the last 60 or so pages. The ending of the book, while not terribly confusing in its composition, seemed rushed. There are two kissing scenes that leave relationships in a tangled state by the time it ends, as they occur between Araby and Will, and Araby and Elliott respectively. This, coupled with the fact that the entire book spends its time pulling you towards wanting Araby to end up with Will, only to have Will betray her by getting her captured by the leader of a revolution (Reverend Malcontent), and then be immediately forgiven, makes the ending seem jumbled compared to the rest of the story. To add onto the confusion, Araby is almost killed because of Elliott’s actions at least thrice during the story, and he tells her multiple times not to trust him, but you’re suddenly supposed to believe Araby would return his feelings by the end? I would change the ending to eliminate all this confusion by having Araby captured by the reverend by some means other than Will betraying her, as well as removing the kiss between her and Elliott. This would give the plotline a much neater conclusion than what it has now, without removing the ability to lead into its sequel.
I loved most of the book, and am happy that I read it, but I do not think it could ever become a true classic. The way I define a classic book is something that everyone, even people who haven’t read it, knows about. The reason I could never think of this book being that? Its title, which has not tried to differentiate itself from the material it is based on in the slightest, a material that is a classic. This leads me to believe that this book could never get out of that shadow, as sad as it is. I would definitely love for it to become a popular example of what it is, a fan-work turned published novel, but I don’t know whether it would achieve that or not.
In conclusion, Masque of the Red Death is an excellent example of what inspiration can do for an author. It had the personal impact on me of making it clear that any sort of idea you would want to write about can become a novel with work. Despite this, the story still has flaws that could have easily been avoided, and the deep connection it has to the existing Edgar Allan Poe story could be what holds it back from being a classic.