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Covin Hassler

Per. 6

In the short story “The Masque of the Red Death” by Edgar Allan Poe, The

Prince of a kingdom stricken by the deadly disease called the Red Death hides with his

wealthy friends and associates to escape from their tragic end. Edgar Allan Poe uses

Items in the story to symbolise the characteristics of life and death.

One of the three main symbols is the black ebony clock which represents the

time passing closer to their inevitable death. While the party was raging the sound was

silenced by the clock “ … and there was a brief disconcert of the whole gay company;

and, while the chimes of the clock yet rang, it was observed that the giddest grew pale,

and the more aged and sedate passed their hands over their brows as if in confused

revery or meditation “( page 2 ). This shows the effect that the clock has on the revelers

by paralyzing them in their tracks. This leads the revelers to understand that even

though they are in safety that no matter what there time is slowly running out. Edgar

later stated that “There came yet another chiming of the clock, and then were the same

disconcert and tremulousness and meditation as before” (Poe 2). This quote

demonstrates the constant distraction of the clock and how it is so loud and disruptive.

This makes the party seem almost like a dream and the clock is the reminder that they

can't escape death. The clock also sits in the very ominis seventh room which is painted

all black with blood stained windows and acts as a constant reminder that death is

The second symbol is the black and blood-stained seventh room which

represents the end of life and a painful tourcherus death. Edgar Allen Poe was

describing the room and said “But in this chamber only, the color of the windows failed

to correspond with the decorations. The panes here were scarlet—a deep blood color.”

(Poe 2). This means that the room had a very wrong look to it, it was very unappealing

and the blood red windows were hinting towards death. All of the other rooms were

painted nice vibrant and pretty colors but the seventh room has such a distinct

difference that it creates a scary environment. Later he says “But in the western or black

chamber the effect of the fire-light that streamed upon the dark hangings through the

blood-tinted panes, was ghastly in the extreme, and produced so wild a look upon the

contenances of those who entered, that there were few of the company bold enough to

set foot within its precincts at all.” (Poe 2). This shows the the incomprehensible

unattractiveness of the western room by the disgusting black to the gory red. The room

is also the most westward which could represent the sunset rich could be interpreted as

the end of life or death. The room was also so repulsive that nobody wanted to even

come close to the hideous room because of the subconscious fact that it brings death.

The third and final symbol Is the masked figure which represents plague and

sickness and the red death. The very first time the revelers see the masked figure

Edgar wrote “The figure was tall and grunt and shrouded from head to foot in the

habiliments of the grave. The mask which concealed the visage was made so nearly of

a stiffened corpse...”(Poe 9). Edgar portrays the figure as a disgusting rotting corpse

that contains pieces of the dead. This is essential because it gives personification
towards the red death and the chaos and mayhem it causes. While the Masked figure

came towards the prince, “he made his way uninterruptedly, but with the same solemn

and measured step which had distinguished him from the first, through the blue

chamber to the purple -- to the purple to the green -- through the green to the orange --

through this again to the white -- and even thence to the violet, ere a decided movement

had been made to arrest him,”(Poe 4). This displays the journey that the masked figure

traveled to get to the prince traveling through all of the rooms. This could also be

interpreted at east to west which is like the sun being born at sunrise and dying at

sunset so the figure is actually traveling through all the stages of life to bring the prince

to die. This is how the masked figure actually is the embodiment of the red death which

travels through life to bring people to their grave.

Though this story may seem like a murder of prince it is actuly an indepth look at

the stages of life and that nomatter how rich or smart you cant ecape death. This is

shown through the symbolism of the characters, places, and items that further

emphasise the double meaning of this short little story.