The Inevitability Of The Red Death

1937 words - 8 pages

The Inevitability of the Red Death
Edgar Allen Poe's “The Masque of the Red Death” is an extravagant allegory of the futility of trying to escape death. In the story, a prince named Prospero tries to avoid the Red Death through isolation and seclusion. He hides behind the impenetrable walls of his castle and turns his back on the rest of the world. But no walls can stop death because it is unavoidable and inevitable. Through the use of character, setting, point of view, and symbol, Poe reveals the theme that no one, regardless of status, wealth or power can stay the passing of time and the inevitable conclusion of life itself, death.
Like many of Poe’s works, the number of ...view middle of the document...

At midnight, as the revelers stand rigid with fear, the Masked Figure appears among the guests. Poe goes to great lengths to describe the difference in appearance of this masked stranger from the party goers. Eventually the stranger is revealed to the reader as the Red Death. However one cannot see a disease, only its physical manifestations. That the figure is merely an aberration is suggested by the emptiness or the lack of “tangible form” (Poe, 390) that the revelers find in ripping off its “corpse like mask” (Poe, 390). As Wheat points out, “It is obviously fruitless to try to seize, unmask, and hang a personification of death” (55). The appearance and final victory of the Red Death further enforces the theme that death is inescapable.
The story is set in an unspecified year and in an unnamed land. The land has been ravaged by a horrible “pestilence” (Poe, 386) that has destroyed half of its inhabitants. After this dreadful description of the population’s doom, Poe introduces the reader to a new world, that of Prince Prospero. The prince is determined to survive the plague and retreats to one of his “castellated abbeys” (Poe, 386) with a thousand of the kingdom’s most healthy and enthusiastic. The abbey has been well stocked with provisions for all. Its walls are tall and strong, and its iron gates are welded shut to prevent both entry and escape. About six months into his seclusion, Prince Prospero, confident of his survival, decides to celebrate by throwing a masquerade ball. The gala takes place in the seven apartments of the imperial suite. Poe goes through great effort to detail and describe each of the rooms and the lavishness of their furnishings. In the end the Red Death will kill the prince and his friends, ridiculing them by showing that the strong walls of the castle could not protect them from Death. The strength of the abbey and the opulence of the apartments reinforce the theme by setting the story in a place where it is conceivable that those inside could escape any attack from outside of it.
The anonymous narrators in Poe’s fiction are the subject of much debate and are often considered of questionable character (Cassuto, 317). The nameless narrator in “The Masque of the Red Death” is no different. The story is told mostly from the point of view of a narrator who seems to have observed firsthand the happenings of the story and is recounting the tale. This is important because the story concludes with the death of Prospero and all one thousand of his guests. Effectively, there could be no survivors; any eyewitnesses to the events of the ball would be dead as well. However, the narrator gives the reader several clues to his identity, by using first person language on three occasions. First is in his description of the scene of the masquerade: “But first let me tell of the rooms in which it was held” (Poe, 386). Second is his description of the pause at midnight: “And then the music ceased, as I have told; and...

Other Papers Like The Inevitability of the Red Death

International Committee of the Red Cross

1761 words - 8 pages iTHE INTERNATIONAL COMMITTEE OF THE RED CROSS (ICRC): MANAGING ACROSS CULTURE ‘We were an orgn made up of Swiss generalists. We are becoming a multicultural and professional enterprise.” 1. INTRODUCTION Dr. Jacques Stroun, M.D. – (1999) Director of Human Resources & Finance (before Head of Detention Division, Deputy Director of Operations) ICRC – provide humanitarian relief, Humanitarian ‘Multinational’ Organisation Home base: Geneva

Red Curtain - Study of the Shubert Brothers

1352 words - 6 pages Red Curtain Will Wehe Lubbock Christian University Red Curtain One of the many things that makes New York so unique is the rich history surrounding the cities there. While not much pertains to American history taught in schools, such as the wars and major political twists and turns, the history that comes out of New York is just as important in shaping the American culture. The Shubert brothers were one trio who contributed to this legacy

death of the bird

520 words - 3 pages promise of being “sure and safely guided”, now the bird is “a vanishing speck” and the “dominions” are “inane”. Instead of the course being marked out by “love”, now it is “unfriendliness” that she encounters – a hint of forces being pitted against her.   By now the “appointed season” is not the season for migration, it is the season of death. The course previously pricked out by love has disintegrated, the sky is

The Penalty of Death

1502 words - 7 pages 06-29-2010 H. L. Mencken’s “The Penalty of Death” Essay By Angelo Bolden References A Mencken Cornucopia by Gibbons Burke Death Penalty – Internet Articles (Google) Capital Punishment – Internet Articles (Google) Sociology 100 - Wayne County Community College Text H. L. Mencken is an author and critic who write about societies need for katharsis. First, Mencken uses logical symbolism to justify the validity of capital

The Death Of Tyrants

261 words - 2 pages The Hundred Years’ War lasted from 1337 to 1453. It was between the English and the French. King Edward III of England launched the war to try and claim the throne. The war lasted so long that new innovations were needed to help turn the tide. The Hundred Years’ War morphed the medieval ways of life into a whole new culture. Many factors during the Hundred Years’ War led to fall of the medieval ways of life. The first major factor was the

The Red Cross

534 words - 3 pages , valuable lesson and custodian of health. First of all, the Red Cross helped me realize the importance of blood donation. Every 3 seconds, someone is in desperate need of blood. We all need blood to survive, but for sick children, accident victims and cancer patients, a shortage of donated blood means death. There is no substitute for blood. Blood donors are the only source of blood for these sick people. When I was fourteen years old, my closest

The Red Tent

1284 words - 6 pages The Red Tent Synopsis The Red Tent is a novel written by Anita Diamant and it was published in 1997. The novel is a first-person narrative that tells the story of Jacob’s only daughter, Dinah. There is little written about Dinah in the Bible. Mostly a reader would read about Jacob and his many sons. The author has broadened Dianh’s story in The Red Tent. Dinah first explains how her father, Jacob, came to be married to her mother, Leah

The Red Convertible

1265 words - 6 pages The Red Convertible Have you ever met anyone after they’ve returned home for a war? Or even the Vietnam War to be specific. Most soldiers experienced something called post-traumaticstress, or war trauma. The story “The Red Convertible” is the second chapter of the book “Love Medicine” written by Louise Erdrich in 1984. The story deals a lot with the disorder in the life of one of its main characters; Henry. This story deals with

The Red Pony

740 words - 3 pages The Red Pony The story The Red Pony by John Steinbeck is about a boy named Jody whom is given a pony by his father. Jody is very proud of his pony and takes great care of it like he is supposed to. One day he leaves his pony out in the coral because it is sunny and he is told that it isn’t going to rain that day. Jody then goes to school and it begins to rain after twelve and Jody begins to worry about his pony. After school he runs home and

Caging the Red Beast

881 words - 4 pages Caging The Red Beast The year 1945 was a time of relief for America and its people. That year was the end of World War II. Germany had lost and the time for rebuilding was near. However the peace did not last long between the U.S.S.R. and the United States. A difference in political and economic views caused a rift in the Soviet Union and United States relationship of convenience. The Soviet Union was run on a system of government called

Behind the Red Mask

876 words - 4 pages Prodigal daughter I have always lived my life with lots of expectations from people around me. I was a consistent an honor student during my elementary and highschool days because of my aspiration of bringing honor to my family. I spent hard time in studying just to attain the honors my parents wanted me to have. I danced during my high school days, joined school organization and was one of the creams of the crop. A popular student in

Related Essays

The Masque Of The Red Death: Symbolism

1770 words - 8 pages The author, Edgar Allan Poe, using illusion or misdirection keeps the reader is suspense throughout this story called "The Masque of the Red Death". Symbolism such as the colored rooms, the impressive clock, the feeling of celebration being at a party all makes this story feel like a fairytale. Poe used this fairytale style and converts it into a nightmare in disguise. In the "Masque of the Red Death," the first sentence, "The Red Death had

The Masque Of The Red Death

930 words - 4 pages “The Masque of the Red Death” by Edgar Allen Poe is an eerie short story about the “Red Death”, Poe’s twist on the Black Plague. This plague swept across an unknown kingdom killing many people as it went. There were sharp pain, and sudden dizziness, and then profuse bleeding at the pores, with dissolution. Poe had two main themes for readers to think about. These themes were proven through five main symbols: The ebony clock in the black room

The Masque Of The Red Death Vs. The Cask Of Amontillado

1585 words - 7 pages Lester Small LITR 220 24 February 2013 The Masque of the Red Death vs. The Cask of Amontillado “The Masque of the Red Death” and “The Cask of Amontillado” written by Edgar Allan Poe are somewhat different. The major themes of these stories differ significantly, as does the emphasis placed on each character which dealt more to The Cask of Amontillado” than to “The Masque of the Red Death” Regardless of this, the stories are similar in many

Stephen Crane's The Red Badge Of Courage

1644 words - 7 pages field. Henry held anger toward death at this time, and Crane uses an impressionistic image of the “red sun pasted in the sky like a wafer” (56). The recognition that the universe is not sympathetic is a pivotal moment in Henry’s growth and development. Henry hated himself for leaving the soldier in need, and admitted to himself that he could never become a hero. At this point of self-awareness, Henry feels envious of the corpses of the