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Introduction:

Edgar Allan Poe (born Edgar Poe; January 19, 1809 – October 7, 1849) was an
American writer, editor, and literary critic. Poe is best known for his poetry and short
stories, particularly his tales of mystery and the macabre. He is widely regarded as a
central figure of Romanticism in the United States and of American literature as a
whole, and he was one of the country's earliest practitioners of the short story. He is
generally considered the inventor of the detective fiction genre and is further credited
with contributing to the emerging genre of science fiction. He was the first well-known
American writer to earn a living through writing alone, resulting in a financially difficult
life and career.

Summary:
'The Masque of the Red Death', originally published as 'The Mask of the Red
Death’A Fantasy' (1842), is a short story by Edgar Allan Poe. The story
follows Prince Prospero's attempts to avoid a dangerous plague known as
the Red Death by hiding in his abbey. He, along with many other wealthy
nobles, has a masquerade ball within seven rooms of his abbey, each
decorated with a different color. In the midst of their revelry, a mysterious
figure disguised as a Red Death victim enters and makes his way through
each of the rooms. Prospero dies after confronting this stranger, whose
'costume' proves to have nothing tangible inside it; the guests also die in
turn.

Ctitical Analysis:

Setting Of the Story:


The story's main action takes place in an elaborate suite of seven colored rooms within
the abbey, where Prospero holds the masquerade ball. The suite, which Prospero
designed, consists of seven rooms that run in a line from east to west. Roughly a line, at
least – as the narrator tells us, their alignment is actually rather irregular, so that from
any given room you can only see into one other room. The lighting's interesting too.
Every room has one window on either side of it (facing roughly north and south), and
the candles to light each room are placed outside the windows in the two hallways that
run along either side of the suite. That way the light shines into the rooms through the
windows, creates quite a neat effect, especially considering the ball takes place late at
night.

The story covers a period of approximately six months during the reign of the Red Death. The
action takes place in " [the] deep seclusion of one of [Prince Prospero's] castellated abbeys."
The "masque" takes place in the imperial suite which consisted of seven, very distinct rooms.
(See Style for a more indepth discussion of the significance of the setting to this particular
story.)

Narrator point of view:

The narrator speaks in the third-person and does not occupy any particular character's
point of view. In fact, he does not even have much to do with the characters at all. Most
of the time he is more interested in describing the setup of Prospero's party (creating
the "atmosphere"). He prefers taking a "bird's eye" view of the crowd of revelers to
lodging himself in any of their heads.

The point of view in "The Masque of the Red Death" is one literary area that sparks
much discussion. It actually seems to shift from 3rd person to 1st person. It starts out
sounding very clearly like a 3rd person, uninvolved, all knowing, onlooker of events is
telling a tale of folklore. But then, the fourth paragraph makes this voice that of an
actual narrator when he says:

“But first let me tell of the rooms in which it was held.”

Tone of the Story:

From beginning to end, the tone of "The Masque of the Red Death" is grave, as in
dread-inducingly serious. It's ominous: you never quite escape the sense of a looming
threat. And it's plenty dark. Poe sets the tone right away – just look at the opening lines:
The "Red Death" had long devastated the country. No pestilence had ever been so
fatal, or so hideous. Blood was its Avatar and its seal --the redness and the horror of
blood.

Symbolism:
Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Masque of the Red Death” should be studied at many levels: (the
literal level – the literal level is a study of the events that actually take place in the story;
an allegorical level – an allegory is a story in which the objects, characters, and events
are symbolic of something grander in scale. In order to understand the story
allegorically, one needs a firm understanding of The Masque of the Red Death
symbolism.

The Red Death symbolizes the inevitability of death. Although there is no specific
disease with the exact symptoms described in the story, critics believe the disease’s
description has elements of tuberculosis, a disease which killed many of those close to
Poe. It also brings forth memories of the Black Death which depopulated much of
Europe during the Middle Ages.

The Castle represents man’s efforts to prevent death. Regardless of wealth, social
position, or popularity, death arrives as an uninvited guest.

Prince Prospero symbolizes the end of feudalism. Prospero’s inviting only wealthy
knights and ladies to his castle at the expense of peasants and commoners represents
the socioeconomic divide between landowners and peasants that existed during the
feudalistic period. It is not coincidental that the Black Death, which reduced the number
of workers, led to a demand for labor and played an important role in ending feudalism
in Europe.

The Ebony Clock is a constant reminder of death and symbolizes the inevitability of it.
The revelers could neither stop its pendulum from swinging nor could they prevent its
ominous tones from dampening their enthusistic later.The seven rooms indicate the
stages in life.

Diction:

In “The Masque of the Red Death,” Edgar Allen Poe writes in an ominously connotative style.
Poe’s use of abstract, polysyllabic and euphonious yet haunting language achieves a foreboding
and insidious mood that develops the theme of the inevitability of mortality. Poe establishes his
euphonious style with beautiful words such as “candelabrum, vividly, velvet,
voluptuous, decora, ebony, embellishments, scarlet, and magnificence,” to paint the image of a
Gothic castle on a dark night, overflowing with riches. His diction draws you into the world of
Prince Prospero; a world in which he feels he can escape death.
Thematic Analysis:

Theme of Death:
One major theme of the text is that no one can escape death. Prince Prospero believes
that he, with all of his wealth and resources, can elude death and live happily while his
kingdom is decimated by disease. He calls a "thousand hale and light-hearted friends
from among the knights and dames of his court, and with these retires to the deep
seclusion of one of his castellated abbeys." Surrounded by its "strong and lofty wall" and
its "gates of iron," this abbey sounds like a veritable fortress, indeed.

Theme of Madness:
The other theme is madness or insanity. It is insane to have a ball in the middle of the
plague ravaged country. Prince Prospero may be the narrator of the story, and as such
may also be the madman. Poe is the genius of the disturbed interior monologue. The
ball may simply be a figment of the disturbed mind of a madman.

Conclusion:
Finally,it is clear that Edgar Allan Poe is father of gothic and horror novel.In his story all elements
including horror ,death,mystery and madness all are present .Moreover symbolism is significant in his
short stories,it also full of symbolism and color imagery.Indeed ,it is an allegorical story,it has double
meaning;one is surface and other is hidden meaning as well as.