The Masque Of The Red Death

1296 words - 5 pages

Have you ever read a story where fantasy is the reality and things do not quite make sense? This is true for “The Masque of the Red Death” by Edgar Allen Poe. 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 create an interesting and meaningful story. 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 meaning. Edgar Allan Poe uses imagery, allegory, and symbolism to add dimension to his story and to express the theme that one cannot escape death, no matter how hard one tries.
Poe uses imagery to paint a picture in readers’ mind, create a mood, and emphasize the significance of certain objects. One can envision the amazement of the chambers, which had “…a tall and narrow Gothic window…of stained glass whose color varied in accordance with the…hue…of the chamber into which it opened” and was lit up by “…a brazier of fire that projected its rays through the tinted glass” (421). One can also imagine the way the crowd slows down to a pause when the “…chiming of the clock... [causes] disconcert and tremulousness and meditations” (423). These descriptions keep readers’ attention throughout the story. One can feel the terror of the “Red Death”, which “…had long devastated the country” and whose “…Avatar and seal [was] the redness and horror of blood” (420). The fact that blood represents the disease makes it recognized as deadly and horrific. One can also understand why the guests did not want to linger near the seventh room, the black room, because “…the effect of the firelight that streamed upon the dark hangings through the blood tinted panes” (421). There is a “…gigantic clock of ebony” in the black room, its sound is described as “…clear and loud and deep and exceedingly musical, but of so peculiar a note and emphasis” (421). This suggests that the clock has importance, as it is a physical reminder of death. If the story did not use imagery, the reader’s interpretation of it would be completely different.
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...

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