Romanticism In 'The Devil And Red Death'

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The American Romantic literary era is split into two genres: traditional romanticism and dark romanticism, both of which can be identified through different literary devices. Typically traditional romanticism works emphasize individualism, escapism, and individuality as well as spirituality through nature. While dark romanticism emphasizes human fallibility, self-destruction, and the effects of guilt and sin. Some works in the romanticism era include Washington Irving's “The Devil and Tom Walker”, a story from the genre of traditional romanticism, which takes place in the year 1727 in a town near New England. The main character is a greedy man named Tom Walker who meets a devil on a shortcut home from work one day, where he decides to sell …show more content…

Prince Prospero decides that to escape the sickness he and his friends will stay in a palace that has no way in or out with six beautiful rooms and one spine-chilling room. In this seventh room there is a big clock, one night when the clock strikes midnight a figure appears in the room, and everyone in the palace dies when the figure is revealed to be the red death. In “The Devil and Tom Walker” and “The Masque of Red Death”, Irving and Poe both use symbols and themes to establish their stories as traditional and dark romantic parts of literature.
Symbols are a big part of the romanticism era with them often representing key factors that allows one to identify traditional and dark romantic works. The story “The Devil and Tom Walker” has a main character named Tom and one day he is in the woods and the devil yells at him, when he tries to tell the devil that land belongs to Deacon Peabody the devil laughs and points to a tree where “the bark of the tree was scored [with] the name of Deacon Peabody, an eminent man who had waxed wealthy by driving shrewd bargains and stealing from the Indians” (Irving, 2). Tom originally attempted to get the devil out of the …show more content…

After Tom Walker from “The Devil and Tom Walker” sold his soul for wealth “[he got a] reputation for a ready-moneyed man, who would lend money out for a good consideration… [although] when people were not able to pay him, he took away their farms, their horses, and their houses” (Irving 4). Tom Walker did not use his wealth for good, he spent his life ripping poor people off to gain even more money. This quote shows the theme of greed can consume people which is shown throughout the story, this also relates to traditional romanticism by showing the characteristic of individuality as Tom Walker is a selfish, grumpy, and gluttonous man which directly connects to the theme of greed consuming people. Additionally, The story “The Masque of Red Death” sees the Kingdom slaughtered from a sickness known as the Red Death while the Prince “retired to the deep seclusion of one of his castellated abbey” (Poe). Although the rest of his Kingdom was suffering the Prince decided to save himself and his friends by hiding out in his glorious palace. The Prince’s actions show the theme of human selfishness when faced with life or death, this also helps identify the story as a part of dark romanticism as the idea of self-destruction is spread through the idea of the Prince not being able to escape death despite his attempts. Thus, the themes in “The Devil and Tom Walker”

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