The Place I Call Home Essay
By definition, a candle is a cylinder of block or wax or tallow with a central wick that is used to produce light as it burns. However, the symbolic definition of a candle is a production of light in darkness; it symbolizes life being produced when there is darkness all around. In both Beauty and the Beast and “The Masque of the Red Death,” candles symbolize life and death, and the tones and moods of these stories are affected by showing when and how life is present or not present during the most critical moments in the stories. Just as in the film, there are many examples of candles being lit up throughout the entire castle in many scenes. In the short story written by Edgar Allan Poe, there are examples of candles, but only in certain parts of the castle. In many pieces of symbolic literature, a candle is one way to show life being brought in. When the flame is lit, it fills any room with life; when the flame is out, however, there is no life present. Many authors use symbols to contribute to the tone and mood of their writing, and the director and author of Beauty and the Beast and “The Masque of the Red Death” are no exception.
Through the symbolic meaning of the candles used in Beauty and the Beast, the tone of the film is presented by emphasizing the life throughout the castle, which in turn, creates a joyous mood for the viewer. One example of a joyous event in the film is more towards the beginning. In this specific scene, Belle is locked in a dark dungeon when Lumiere, the Beast’s trustworthy candelabrum, uses his candles to enhance the dungeon, making it lighter and warmer for the girl. In another scene, the enchantress restores the eternal rose that was not only holding the life of all of the objects in the castle and the castle itself, but the hope and mortality of the Beast. When the rose is restored, the darkness fades away inside of the castle, and every candle within its walls becomes lit with a blazing flame. These examples from the film express how the symbolism present in the candles contributes to the idea that through them, life is brought in and fills the air. As described in the first scene, the light is brought in through Lumiere, which in turn, creates a safer and welcoming environment for a scared, young girl to be in. He offers an escape from the horrible conditions that Belle is being exposed to. Also, the candles present in the second scene that was described suggest that new life is being presented to the audience through them. As each candle becomes lit, it is almost as if one new life is being introduced into the castle. These events presented from the film are evident to be placed by the director. The director wanted to create an atmosphere filled with life and happiness, which is exactly how the tone of the film is presented. In turn, the viewer sees these examples of life, and becomes relieved by these joyous occasions, accomplished through the mood. In the film Beauty and the Beast, candles are used to symbolize happiness in the midst of danger and sadness through the tone and mood, which contrasts Poe’s short story “The Masque of the Red Death.”
“The Masque of the Red Death,” written by Poe, portrays candles as producing an eerie tone and mood. One example of the eeriness is presented on page 43 when the text reads, “Now in no one of the seven apartments was there any lamp or candelabrum, amid the profusion of golden ornaments that lay scattered to and fro or depended from the roof. There was no light of any kind emanating from lamp or candle within the suite of chambers.” In this example, the lack of light provided from the candles within the castle creates a darkness that can only be solved with light. This feeling of mysteriousness that presents itself is eye opening to the reader because they can understand the presence of mystery that makes itself known within the castle. This event that Poe describes is coinciding with the idea that there is no light being produced from the candles, therefore creating a monumental impact on the tone. The solemn and creepy way that the masked figure moves about the seven dark rooms of the castle creates a lingering effect on the entire plotline of this short story. In both of these examples, the tone perceives the haunting and almost demoralizing way in which Poe creates the sense of eeriness as the tone. In return, the mood of the story is understood by the reader to be suspenseful and mysterious. The darkness fills the atmosphere, and, because there are no candles lit, there is no life present within the apartment walls. The warmth emanating from the candles is no longer produced, and there is utter and complete death surrounding the entire castle, creating a perfect place for darkness to rise. “The Masque of the Red Death” creates a dark presence, and, through the tone and mood, life is not achieved throughout the story.
Through the use of the symbolism present in candles, the tone and mood of the popular film Beauty and the Beast emits happiness and life, whereas in Poe’s short story “The Masque of the Red Death,” the tone and mood appear to be lifeless and suspenseful. In the film, Lumiere is present in bringing joy into the Beast’s castle. In one scene, Belle’s father enters the Beast’s castle only to find a roaring fire and a candlelit dinner waiting for him. The warmth emitting from the dining room invites him in, and he feels a sense of relief when he sees that there must be life within the castle. The warm and joyful feeling that the viewer feels creates the mood of the film. On the contrary, the short story emanates darkness and despair without the use of candles throughout the castle. On page 42, the text states, “But in the corridors that followed the suite, there stood, opposite to each window a heavy tripod, bearing a brazier of fire, … And thus were produced a multitude of gaudy and fantastic appearances.” In this example, it is reasonable to conclude that there is no light within the seven apartments. However, there is light in the hallways connecting the rooms. This action proves to linger the suspense because it leaves the reader to question why the absence of candles in each room is occurring. The scary and mysterious feeling that the reader perceives is understood to be the mood of the short story. The presence of the candles creates different tones and moods for each piece. The warmth of candles in the tone of the film symbolizes an inviting and warm mood for the reader, whereas the lack of candles present in the dark tone of the short story symbolize a chilling and mysterious mood for the readers. Thus, the presence of the symbolism in the candles produces different tones and moods for each literary piece, leading to the conclusion that candles can mean different symbolizations.
Although candles are used in both Beauty and the Beast and “The Masque of the Red Death,” they symbolize different aspects of each story. In the film, candles bring joy and life to view, focusing on the good rather than the bad. However in Poe’s short story, the use of the candles focuses on how there is no light present from them. The darkness becomes surrounds the atmosphere, and there is nothing left except for darkness. As a result, the tones and moods of these pieces are increasingly different. Because the tones are focusing on different aspects that the candles put forward, the contrasting moods produce different outcomes for the reader. Through the stories of Beauty and the Beast and “The Masque of the Red Death,” candles symbolize how both life and death are present through the tones and moods.
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