In "The Masque of the Red Death," Poe presents an age-old theme, a template as old as the middle ages morality pat Everyman. In this ancient play, the main character is named Everyman and early in the beat while walking under the road, that meets an additional character referred to as Death. Everyman cries out to him: "O Death, her comest as soon as I had actually thee the very least in mind." Similarly, Poe"s story faces the inevitability the death and also the futility that trying come escape death. This crucial theme is presented directly and with extreme economy through the plot, or stare element. This is the method that Poe decided to attain his unity of impact (see section on Poe"s "Critical Theories").
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The story opens with a recounting that a plague, the "Red Death"; it has long been damaging the country, and the narrator describes the process of the disease, emphasizing the redness of the blood and the scarlet stains. The disease is therefore deadly quick that one is dead in ~ thirty minutes after the is infected. Thus, in the quick opening paragraph, Poe offers such words as devastated, pestilence, fatal, hideous, fear of blood, sharp pains, profuse bleeding, scarlet stains, victim, disease and fatality — and all this words, gathered together, produce an immediate impact of the horror of fatality caused through the "Red Death."
In contrast, us hear the Prince Prospero, a name that connotes happiness and prosperity, has actually summoned a thousands of his "lighthearted friends" from the the aristocracy to sign up with him in a "castellated abbey" i beg your pardon has strong and lofty walls and "gates the iron." The prince has very carefully detailed entertainment of all types, and also they room all happy and also secure within, while outside the "Red Death" is rampaging.
After setting the tone, Poe following underscores his layout by arguing the folly of these foolish civilization who think the they can escape fatality by such physical obstacles as high walls and also iron gates. The contrast of the gaiety within and also the ravaging fatality outside, as explained at the beginning of the story, contributes to the overall effect the writer is after. Likewise, the people are entertained by the merriment of a "masked" ball, described in nearly surrealistic terms. Many critics have actually looked because that a regular symbolic pattern in the seven rooms in i beg your pardon the round is held, however Poe eschewed elaborate symbolic frameworks and, instead, functioned for a unified of effect. One an approach he often used for this impact was to have actually his stories take ar in a closeup of the door circle whereby one has actually the impression that there being no escape. Consequently, the citizens are locked inside the lock by the high walls and also the gates of iron, and also they are further enclosed throughout the round by the circular, enclosed 7 halls. Accordingly, once the stranger, masking as "the Red Death," walks v the room, he passes in nearby proximity to all of the revelers.
The prominence of the seven rooms lies in the saturday and, therefore, the critical room. Together the narrator explains the rooms, we room told that the home window panes look out onto the hall fairly than the outside world, and also that they take on the colors and also hues of the decorate of every room. The very first room is decorated in blue and the stained glass has actually a blue hue. The 2nd is purple and so "the panes are purple." and this proceeds through the environment-friendly room (third), the orange room (fourth), the white room (fifth), and also the violet room (sixth). However, the seventh room is different. Here the apartment is "shrouded in black velvet," but the panes are "scarlet — a deep blood-color." Furthermore, this black chamber is the most westernly and "the result of the firelight ~ above the blood tinted panes is ghastly in the extreme, and also produces for this reason wild a watch upon the countenance of those who get in it that there are few . . . Bold enough to set foot in ~ it."
Poe"s function in these descriptions, an especially the black color room, has actually no relationship to reality. In reality, no such location as the black color room would certainly be provided as a component of a ballroom. But Poe desires to achieve an effect — a total, unified impact — in bespeak to display the near proximity of the revelry the life and the masquerade come the inevitability of fatality itself.
As noted above, therefore, regardless of even if it is or no the an initial six rooms have any symbolic function, the significance of the saturday room cannot escape the reader"s attention. Black usually symbolizes death, and it is usually supplied in link with death. Moreover, in describing the black color decor the the room, the narrator says that the is shrouded in velvet, shrouded being a word always referring to death. Likewise, the window panes space "scarlet — a deep blood color." This is an obvious reference to the "Red Death." when the masked "Red Death" makes his appearance, he moves quickly from the east room (symbolic that the beginning of life) come the west room (symbolic of the finish of life). In conjunction through man"s quick and brief journey through life is the rapid passing of time, represented by the black clock; every time the clock strikes the hour, the musicians quit play and all of the revelers momentarily cease their celebrating. It is as though each hour is "to be stricken" upon their brief and fleeting lives. Come emphasize the brevity the life, the fleeting the life and also time, and also the nearness the death, Poe reminds the leader that in between the highlight of every hour, over there elapses "three thousand and six hundred secs of the moment that flies."
In despite the of every things, the masqueraders continue their gaiety and also revelry. Here, keep in mind Poe"s description: The guests have donned costumes that are frequently grotesque; over there is "much glare and also glitter and piquancy and also phantasm"; there space "arabesque figures" and "madman fashions." Poe defines the party in terms of "delirious fancies" and as "beautiful . . . Wanton . . . Bizarre . . . Terrible, and not a tiny of that which could have excited disgust." this descriptions room reminiscent the orgies i beg your pardon are defined in other good Romantic functions (in Goethe"s Faust, Pushkin"s Eugene Onegin, Byron"s Childe Harold, for example). Furthermore, due to the fact that the maskers are so bizarre themselves, once the mask that the "Red Death" appears, that is shocking. The leader discovers that this "guest" is even more terrific and strange than all the other guests. That is horrendous by comparison. Significantly, the figure of the "Red Death" in ~ midnight is propitious and symbolic. This is the finish of the work and, by analogy, the end of life. His appearance strikes a note of "terror, the horror, and of disgust." The number is "shrouded from head come foot in the habiliments the the grave." His mask is that of a corpse which, us gather, passed away from the Red Death and to create an ext horror, his entire outfit is sprinkled with blood and also "all the attributes of the challenge were besprinkled through the scarlet horror." Again, the reader have to note how efficiently Poe, through his selection of words, records man"s universal fear of death and its horrors.
When Prince Prospero look at the stranger, that is indignant at together an intrusion. (It would practically be too simplistic to say that all human being are indignant at the intrusion of death on their lives.) The prince instantly instructs the stranger to it is in seized, but all space universally frightened come seize this Red Death. Infuriated, the prince draws a dagger and also rushes "hurriedly through the six chambers," yet as he approaches the figure, his dagger stops, and also he falls dead upon the black carpet. The various other revelers loss upon the black "mummer" however to their "unutterable horror," they uncover nothing under the shrouds or behind the corpse-like mask. One by one, all of them drop dead. The "Red Death," Poe speak us, holds "illimitable dominion over all."
Poe"s story possesses no real characters. The greatness of the story lies in his use of an age-old design template — the inevitability of fatality — and in the means that Poe creates and also maintains a total unity of effect, he bring us into the horror of the story.
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The story provides no effort to existing a realistic watch of any known element of life. We carry out not also know what nation the story takes location in, but, as result of the surname of the prince, we assume the to it is in a southerly European country. The story achieves credibility merely through Poe"s an effective unity of result that he creates so marvelously. Each word that each description contributes come one single, combined mood of fear and also horror. An environment of strangeness, a bizarre situation, and an evocative layout all combine to make this one of Poe"s most reliable stories.