Honors Junior English
Turning Reality into Writing
Edgar Allan Poe’s work as a poet and editor has had a profound impact on American literature. Poe is credited with the creation of the short story and is also one of the originators of both the detective fiction and horror genres. Many of his short stories revolve around the themes of life and death because of the effects his own life had on his writing. “The Masque of the Red Death” is extremely similar to Poe’s life because both the characters in the short story and Poe himself were unable to escape death around them despite their greatest efforts.
Edgar Allan Poe published “The Masque of the Red Death” in 1842. This short story takes place in a kingdom where Prince Prospero is the ruler. At this time, the Red Death was devastating the kingdom, killing everyone it affected in less than 30 minutes. The narrator states that “no pestilence had ever been so fatal, or so hideous” (Poe 55). The disease was called the Red Death simply because it made its victims bleed from every pore leaving red stains all over them before they died a painful death moments later. Prince Prospero wanted to avoid this sickness and better his own chances of survival, so he locked himself away in his castle with 1,000 of his closest followers. After six months, the Prince decided to throw a masquerade and decorated each of the rooms in his castle a different color for the party. Throughout the night, many party-goers were frightened to go into the black room decorated with blood-red windows because of the clock that struck at the top of every hour. When the clock struck midnight a “person” dressed as a victim of the Red Death arrived at the party. Soon after, it was known that the “person” was not actually a person, but the Red Death itself, killing every person at the party. The Red Death still affected every single person despite their greatest efforts to lock themselves away and avoid it. Similarly to the short story, Poe tried to lock himself away and turned to gambling and alcohol to suppress the trauma he experienced from the loss of his loved ones early in his life.
Edgar Allan Poe was born in Boston, Massachusetts on January 19, 1809 to David and Elizabeth Poe. Elizabeth died when Edgar was only three and his father disappeared shortly after, leaving Edgar and his two siblings alone. Soon after, him and his siblings were separated and sent to different families to be taken care of (Brower x). Already at the age of three, Poe was surrounded by the loss of his closest family members, but Poe would experience this type of loss throughout his life which greatly influenced his writing.
Poe was taken in by John and Frances Allan shortly after his mother’s death. He became very close with Frances but had a troubled relationship with John. When he was six the Allans moved to England where he spent many years traveling to different boarding schools. After...