“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.
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