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Literary Analysis Essay on Masque of the Red Death by Edgar Allan Poe

5 pages
1131 words
Boston College
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In the Masque of the Red Death, Edgar Allan Poe explains the activities of Prince Prospero who was trying to avoid the red death. Prospero meticulously collects all the noble men and women in his castle where he organizes continuous merry making parties. The plan, however, backfires as all the participants in the castle are affected by the plaque. In the excerpt, Edgar provides a description of the buildings design and the behavior of the individuals in an atmosphere of fear and death.

In the first paragraph, for instance, Edgar provides a comparison between the normal suites and the suites built by the duke. Apparently, in the normal circumstances, the rooms would have been expected to be aligned as reflected in the following statement suites form a long and straight vista, while the folding doors slide back nearly to the walls on either hand so that the view of the whole extent is scarcely impeded. In the case of Prosperos suite, however, the suites are built in a different manner which helps to portray the dukes love of the bizarre. Some of the unusual designs include the sharp turn at every twenty to thirty yards (Poe 342). Besides Edgar indicates that the flat was irregularly inclined to an extent that one could not see more than one room at a time. Specifically, the description helps to attract the readers attention to the unusual design of the castle and the subsequent unusual activities which were to ensue in the building (Poe 342).

Further, Edgar highlights how each of the room had a different colored gothic window. Apparently, the difference in the colors chosen for the seven rooms serves to communicate a specific meaning. For instance, the seventh room is colored black which has been associated with death in most instances. Perhaps more specifically, the choice of the blood red color for the windows in the seventh room acts as a premonition of the activities which would later take place in the room. As highlighted in the later chapters of the book, Prospero and the other individuals lose their lives in the seventh room. Therefore it is clear that the choice of the dark color for the room and blood red for the windows was to give an inkling to the readers on what would happen in the room. The author also describes the arrangement of the rooms from the eastern to the western side of the building which is symbolic in nature. For instance, the east has often been associated with birth and west death in line with the movement of the sun. It is in line with this perspective that we see that the easternmost room is painted blue while the westernmost room is painted black. Moreover, given the fact that the story is labeled as the Masque of the Red Death, the choice of colors for the seventh room, therefore, acts as a pointer of the death that would happen. Furthermore, the statements few of the company bold enough to set foot within its precincts at all, (Poe 343) implies that the atmosphere in the seventh room was so tarrying that no one dared to get inside. The author used such statements to communicate the perspective of the occupants of the castle regarding the room.

The description of the huge clock hanging on the halls wall conveys the importance of time in the activities which took place in the castle. Firstly the sound emitted by the clock when it struck the top of the hour as described in the following statement Its pendulum swung to and fro with a dull, heavy, monotonous clang evoked fear and confusion. This description creates an image of sadness and fear in the mind of the readers. Secondly, as indicated by the author at each lapse of an hour, the musicians of the orchestra were constrained to pause, momentarily, in their performance, to hearken to the sound (Poe 344), the fact that the musicians momentarily stopped their activities at the start of every hour indicates the impact of time. Apparently, Edgar is communicating to the readers that it was only a matter of time before the merrymaking activities would come to an end within the castle. The author specifically uses the words the giddiest grew pale perhaps to explain the negative turn of events which was expected with the passage of time. Further, it communicates to the readers that in as much as the participants were merrymaking there was bound to be a sad turn of events.

In the last paragraph, Edgar shows the readers that the occupants of the house were not bothered by the design of the building nor the monotonous and dull sound of the clock. In other words, in as much as there were clear indicators of death, the nobles continued their merry-making activities. The author highlights the capabilities of the duke as a way of showing that he perceived himself to be in control of all the events in the building. Specifically, the use of words such as The tastes of the duke was peculiar Poe (345), shows how he had exceptional capabilities in terms of organizing the parties. Further, the author highlights how Prospero disregarded ordinary fashion. In the following description, His plans were bold and fiery, and his conceptions glowed with barbaric luster highlights how the duke had a firm authority over his subjects. Essentially the author of this paragraph was creating an image of a ruler who was firmly in control of his subjects. The subjects taking part in the party were, therefore, ready to lay aside their worries as they were assured of protection from the duke as reflected in the following statement But in spite of these things, it was a gay and magnificent revel (Poe 345)

From the above description, it is clear that Edgar was successful in creating an image of how the red death gained entry and affected the occupants of the castle. From the design of the building, the readers can determine that the building was not constructed following the standards designs. Edgar asserts that the building was designed in line with bizarre tastes of the duke. Further, the painting of the rooms clearly evokes an image of death. The use of the blood red color for the windows and black paint for the walls and floors is a clear indication of the activities which would later take place in the room. The author also describes how the musicians would stop their activities at the top of each hour when the clocks chimed. The dull and monotonous sound produced by the clock and the effect it had on the merrymakers clearly highlighted the fact that death was in the offing.

Work cited

Poe, Edgar Allan. Complete Tales of Edgar Allan Poe. S.l.: LULU COM, 2015. Print.


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