Everyone Is Mortal Essay

1249 words - 5 pages

Everyone will one day face mortality. This was also true for Prince Prospero in the short story by Edgar Allen Poe, “The Masque of the Red Death”. In it is a version of the black plague, which is called the “Red Death”. Prince Prospero secludes a thousand friends and himself from the death around them, but finds that he cannot avoid the inevitable. The author uses many literary devices to develop the theme of unavoidable death. One of the devices used is imagery, which evokes the events of the story clearly in the reader’s mind. Another is allegory, which is used by Poe to create another story within his, as it is filled with double meanings. Lastly, Poe utilizes symbolism to give the story ...view middle of the document...

Poe uses allegory to allude to the double meanings of the characters Prince Prospero and the masked figure, as well as the setting of the chambers. Prince Prospero represents prosperity. While his nation is suffering from the “Red Death”, “…he summoned to his presence a thousand hale and lighthearted friends…and with these retired to the deep seclusion of one of his castellated abbey” (420). His nobility and wealth give him the ability to ignore the horror around him and live in luxury. This refers to real life in that the privileged are the ones who are able to still live comfortably even if others are in a crisis. Prince Prospero also represents an ignorance, selfishness, and arrogance that come with wealth through right instead of hard work. He believes that “[t]he external world could take care of itself” and that it is “…folly to grieve, or to think” (420). Instead of taking action to help his people, he just leaves them in the grips of the “Red Death”. The “Red Death” is represented by a dark figure, made clear by the detail that “…his vesture was dabbled in blood—and his broad brow…was besprinkled with the scarlet horror” (425). During the masquerade, the prince sees this mysterious masked figure and “…convulsed…in a strong shudder either of terror or distaste” (425). Believing he is mocked, he rushes after the figure himself—since all of his guests are frozen in disbelief—to his own death. He believes that he is unconquerable, but death does not discern between the rich and the poor. Death is inescapable, as the revelers discover despite their efforts “…to leave means neither of ingress nor egress” (420). In the end, “…Darkness and Decay and the Red Death held illimitable dominion over all” (427) as death overcomes everything and is followed by nothing. The series of the seven chambers represent the course of life, with the first blue room representing birth and the last black room representing death. When Prince Prospero began in the blue room and“…rushed hurriedly through the six chambers” (427) to the black room where the embodiment of the Red Death was waiting, he was rushing to his death. The rooms were also “…so irregularly disposed that the vision embraced but a little more than one at a time… [and had] a sharp turn at every twenty or thirty yards and at each turn a novel effect” (421). This relates to life in that one cannot see what will come ahead. It conveys the message that life has unexpected turns and it is up to the person to navigate their way through.
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