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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 long devastated the country," sets the tone for the whole story. Poe describes the horrors of the disease, stressing the redness of the blood and the scarlet stains. The disease kills so quickly that one can die within thirty minutes of being infected ...view middle of the document...

” These friends and their joyous actions lend a feeling of lightness or fun to the story. The uncaring and celebratory manner in which they present themselves seems vain and outrageous - considering the dreadful disease occurring elsewhere.
Symbolism plays an important part in this story. The ebony clock is particularly significant “there stood against the Western wall, a gigantic clock of ebony.” Poe placed the clock against the western wall for a symbolic purpose. The sun rises in the East and sets in the West. The clock is nearer to the setting sun. The placement of the clock indicates an association with an ending. A sunset indicates the ending of a day, while the ebony color of the clock suggests its relationship with darkness and death. The characters react to the sounding of the clock’s chimes in a nervous fashion. “…While the chimes of the clock yet rang, it was observed that the giddiest grew pale.” Poe uses this clock to remind the characters that they have lived through another hour to build up the time of revelation. At each strike of the clock the characters stop everything as if they are waiting for the "Red Death" to come for them at any minute. At twelve, the stranger dressed as the "Red Death" appears. This time everyone begins to fear death. The darkness of the rooms causes shadows to form by the fires' light to increase suspense.
The story takes place in seven sharply separated rooms. A reading of the story suggests that the seven rooms represent the seven stages of life, from birth to death. These rooms are vividly described with seven distinct colors starting with blue for the most easterly room, purple, green, orange, white, violet, and finally the seventh was black. This room is very dark-"no lamp or candelabrum." The descriptions the picture of each room. The seven rooms are designed going from east to west, same as the course of the sun, suggesting a flow of start to finish, or the ages of man. The foreshadowing Poe uses when describing the seventh chamber and the window that leads to it warns the reader of future horrors that will occur in the abbey. The author uses foreshadowing or forewarning effectively when he describes the panes of the windows that lead to the room. Just as victims of the Red Death display “scarlet stains upon the body,” the window panes also display a scarlet color. “The panes here were scarlet – a deep blood color.” The description of the panes shows the seventh room’s strong ties to the Red Death.
When the Prince pursues the masked figure, traveling through each room only to die in the final black room of eternal night. Black is usually connected with death and when the black decor of the room was described, the narration says the term "shrouded", a term generally referring to death. This room is the only room where the color of the windows do not correspond with the color of the walls but instead "the panes here were scarlet - a deep blood color," which images intensify the feelings...

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