How Does Edgar Allan Poe Use Symbols In The Masque Of The Red Death

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Death awaits us all Death, it is scary is it not? One may even attempt to evade death. The man in Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Masque of the Red Death” thought that his great wealth and power could shield him from the inevitability of death. This story takes place in the middle of a city that has just been contaminated with a deadly plague named “The Red Death”. The plague gets its name from the violent death its victim experience before they die; excessive bleeding through the pores. In an attempt to evade death, Prince Prospero invites his closest friends to his palace and orders the doors to be welded shut. The Prince and his guests then hold a party and enjoy themselves as the disease …show more content…

The symbols can be as simple as a clock or a bit more perplexing like a dark mysterious figure. For example, ”Red Death is not a man, but the Grim Reaper, a black angel of death whose remnants of “grave-cerements and corpse-like mask” are the only tangible proof of the Red Death’s supernatural, gothic existence.” (Del Guercio), In this quote, The Red Death is acknowledged as more than just a plague, rather it is portrayed as “The grim reaper”. Another example of symbolism is ”In the easternmost room, the color is blue, the next purple, the third green, the fourth orange, the fifth white, the sixth black, and the seventh black.” (Caldwell), although it may not be evident at first, the decorated rooms represent much more than just a show of wealth and luxury. Another example of subtle symbolism is ”It was in this apartment, also, that there stood against the western wall, a gigantic clock of ebony . . . while the chimes of the clock yet rang, it was observed that the giddiest grew pale.” (Poe), in this quote it is clear from the reactions of the prince’s guests that the clock represents much more than just a timepiece. Although it may not be evident at first, “The Masque of the Red Death” is riddled with symbols that come in many different …show more content…

The meaning of these symbols are not always crystal clear but there are general meanings that most readers can agree on. For example, the quote from the last paragraph ”It was in this apartment, also, that there stood against the western wall, a gigantic clock of ebony . . . while the chimes of the clock yet rang, it was observed that the giddiest grew pale.” (Poe), the ticking clock is a constant reminder of the inevitability of death and the constant approach towards it. Another example is ”Only to find that the figure is death itself.” (Caldwell), this quote is talking about the scene where a mysterious figure enters the prince’s palace and infuriates the prince. The prince proceeds to chase after the figure only to get stabbed when he confronts it. The figure is actually the Red Death, but in this scene it is shown to symbolize death itself. One more example is ”This wall had gates of iron. The courtiers, having entered, brought furnaces and massy hammers and welded the bolts.”, this quote takes place after the prince has invited his guests and orders the iron gates be welded shut. This symbolizes the prince’s attempt to evade death through his power and wealth, However, this proves to be ineffective as death is inevitable. In conclusion, Poe’s use of symbolism adds depth and a moral to the

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