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The Devil And Tom Walker Versus The Masque Of The Red Death

965 words - 4 pages

Both The Devil and Tom Walker by Washington Irving and The Masque of the Red Death by Edgar Allan Poe were borne of the Romanticism era of literature. The Devil and Tom Walker is about the eponymous Tom Walker selling his soul to the devil in exchange for riches. It was inspired by the legend of Faust, a man who also sold his soul and paid a dire price as a result. In The Masque of the Red Death, a story purportedly inspired by the tuberculosis, Prince Prospero locks himself and a thousand other survivors of the titular Red Death in his castle. Both stories deal with mortality, both protagonists are selfish, and both tales are allegories.
The concept of mortality is truly fascinating, ...view middle of the document...

He encounters The Devil himself, who promises Tom riches for his soul. Initially, Tom is hesitant. When his abusive wife is murdered by The Devil, Tom decides to go through with the deal. His wife was abusive to him, so surely her death must have been a good sign. The exchange is made, and Tom accumulates a substantial amount of riches. All is well until he begins thinks about his own mortality how he does not want to die and lose his riches. This paranoia eventually leads to his untimely demise. In The Masque of the Red Death, Prince Prospero already has seemingly endless riches. Instead of greed, Prospero is motivated by narcissistic self-absorption. When the Red Death begins killing his people, Prospero retreats to his castellated abbey with a relatively small group of people, and is evidently uncaring about the outside world. So as to keep them - and himself - entertained, Prospero hosts an elegant masquerade. When a guest arrives bearing a literal mask of The Red Death, Prospero becomes enraged that someone would dare disgrace him in such a way. He demands the offender be hanged. No one is brave enough to even take a step towards the intruder, so Prospero himself goes after him, and promptly dies as retribution possibly not only for denying that death is unavoidable, but also for being egotistical.
Both The Devil and Tom Walker and The Masque of the Red Death are allegories. In the former, Washington Irving warns readers against the dangers of sin and temptation. Tom Walker is greedy, as was his wife, who is herself an allegorical representation of anger or wrath. They were envious of each other’s possessions whilst also hoarding their own. When Tom tells his wife of his chance meeting with The Devil,...

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