Allegory In The Masque Of The Red Death

918 Words4 Pages
Demi Pyle
February 20, 2018
English 1302
Looking Closer at “The Masque of The Red Death” In the grim short story written by Edgar Allan Poe in 1842, “The Masque of the Red Death” tells the tale of a kingdom ravaged with disease and a prince’s journey to escape death. Poe hides underlying messages throughout the story, leaving the reader to interpret the true meaning of prosperity and death. Edgar Allan Poe uses symbolism and imagery in the form of an allegory to reveal to the reader that death is inescapable, no matter how wealthy you are. “The Masque of the Red Death” is an allegory, symbolizing the journey from life to death, proving that death is inescapable for everyone. This is shown through the symbolism used by Poe, not only in characters,
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The entire short story can be envisioned as a scary dream. Poe sets the tone of the story in the very beginning, stating, “The ‘Red Death’ had long devastated the country. No pestilence had ever been so fatal, or so hideous. Blood was its Avatar and its seal- the redness and the horror of blood,” (Poe 3). This sets an emphatically dark and horrific tone for the reader, which carries into the plot of the story. He continues to describe the “Red Death,” stating that there were “Sharp pains and dizziness, and then profuse bleeding at the pores,” (Poe 3). By describing the disease so vividly, Poe is giving the reader a visual image to magnify the dreaminess of the story. He does this again when describing the attendees of the Masquerade. He describes them, saying, “There were arabesque figures with unsuited limbs and appointments. There were delirious fancies such as the madman fashions. There was much of the beautiful, much of the wanton, much of the bizarre, something of the terrible, and not a little of that which might have excited disgust,” (Poe 6). Poe describes the luxury and extravagance of the masquerade to enhance the dream-like qualities that he gives the story. By using such descriptive imagery, he reinforces the dark and dreary tone, which also enhances the theme of…show more content…
The first example of symbolism is the rooms in the abbey. Each room was a different color and line up from east to west. This is a symbol for the progression of life and death. The first room was blue, representing birth, then purple representing youth, green representing adolescence, orange representing adulthood, white symbolizing old age, violet symbolizing imminent death, and black and scarlet symbolizing death itself. This is also a metaphor as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west; it can also be seen as symbolism for the progression of a day. As Prince Prospero and the masked guest go from room to room, they are symbolizing the progression of life from birth to death. This is an important symbol in the story because it emphasizes the theme of inescapable death. The next example is the Black Clock in the black room. This symbolizes the span of life. In the story, the clock struck midnight and the Prince’s time was up, symbolizing his life being over. The clock is black because black symbolizes death, which can mean that the clock could also mean one’s time left until death. The next example is Prince Prospero; his name representing prosperity. By hiding in his abbey and building iron gates, he symbolizes human desire to escape death. As he tries to hide from death, it is ironic that death walks undetected into his abbey that was so heavily guarded. The final example of
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