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Masque of the Red Death - A Literary Essay Example

3 pages
598 words
Harvey Mudd College
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In the story Masque of the Red Death by Edgar Allan Poe we learn of the experiences of Prospero who oversaw the tribulations of his people. Apparently, the prince failed to protect his people when the red death affected them choosing to lock himself and other nobles in his castle. The movie Masque of the Red Death which was directed by Rodger Corman in 1964 is based on Edgars book. The adoption of the story into a movie, however, resulted in several aspects being left out. This essay highlights the various elements which were not transferred from writing into the screenplay.

One of the most visible aspects which have been left out is the manner in which Prospero reacts to the read death masquerade. As indicated in the story by Edgar, Prospero was genuinely annoyed with the man who had chosen to wear the red costume (Poe, and Winifred 4). Consequently, he decides to confront him and even brandishes a knife. This description is however not captured in the movie by Corman. On the contrary, we see that Prospero is not holding a knife when confronting the man in the red costume. The other variation is exhibited in the manner in which Prospero is frightened by the man in the red outfit. As reflected in the original story, Prospero confronted the man to the end. However, this is not the case in the movie as we see Prospero fleeing from the man in the red costume. Edgar also describes how the shiny knife fell to the floor after the murder of Prospero. In the movie, however, we see Prospero slumping to the floor without making any cry. There is only an exhibition of deep anguish and pain in his face.

Besides that, Edgar also indicates in the story that the man in the red costume was confronted by some of the strongest of the dancers. This scene is however left out on the screenplay as all of the dancers die before Prospero is killed. Therefore, after killing all the occupants of the room, the man in the red masquerade leaves the building without being confronted by anyone. Furthermore, there is no one to touch the man to ascertain that he had no physical body at all. This occurrence is a sharp contrast to the story whereby we are told the dancers touched the man in the red costume and were shocked to find that he had no body (Torres 3).

The other aspect which is left out in the screenplay is the description of the windows. As indicated by Edgar, each room had huge windows or a tall pointed window as mentioned in the story. This aspect is however left out as the windows displayed in the movie are small and pointy almost circular.

In regards to the dancing which was taking place, we see that in the movie there is hardly any pause when the watch speaks. This scene is a sharp contrast to the description given by Edgar whereby he indicates that the dancers would stand still to listen after every sixty minutes when the watch spoke, neither do they stop their dancing.

From the above-highlighted aspects, it is evident that the screenplay Masque of the Red Death by Corman did not follow to the latter all the factors which were underscored by Edgar in the story.


Works cited

Poe, Edgar Allan, and Winifred Phillips. The Masque of the red death. Hynek, 1995.

Torres, Mario Jorge. "The Phosphorescence of Edgar Allan Poe on Film: Roger Corman's" The Masque of the Red Death." The Edgar Allan Poe Review 11.1 (2010): 182-191.


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