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Patrick Costa Robles


Pre-AP English

11 November 2019

The Masque of the Red Death ​Essay

This story was written by Edgar Allen Poe in 1842, it was about a fictitious disease

(known as the Red Death) that killed a group of revellers during a Masquerade. Poe uses literary

devices to tell the reader what is going to happen to the guests at the party, for example he uses 7

rooms to describe the cycle of life in a way mocking death. They try to avoid the disease by

locking themselves in Prince Prospero’s abbey keeping everyone one else out, but this lead to

their inevitable demise. In the short story, “​The Masque of the Red Death,”​ Edgar Allen Poe uses

allegories to get the message that one cannot hide from death to his readers.

To start off, Poe uses the clock to symbolise their upcoming death. While the rich were

having fun during their party, the clock made a, “peculiar note and emphasis that at each lapse of

the hour, the musicians of the orchestra were constrained to pause... and there was a brief

disconcert of the whole gay company,” After the chiming of the clock had stopped, “a light

laughter at once pervaded the assembly.” (Poe pg3) This meant the guests at Prince Prospero’s

party were afraid of something if they had stopped their party for just a clock. This was

important because the guests were afraid of death, and the clock would wake them from their

party, only to make them realize that death is upon them. The clock once again chimed, “the

musicians… made whispering vows to each other that the next chiming of the clock should

produce no similar emotion,” but as the party continue, “there came yet another chiming of the
clock, and then the same diconcert and tremulousness and meditation as before.”(Poe 2) This

clock afflicts the guests to become silent just from the ringing of it, which showed that the guests

are scared of something and the clock is just reminding them of it. The guests were trying to hide

from the red death in Prince Prospero’s Abbey, and the clock symbolized their inevitable demise

from the Red Death. Prospero’s guests were afraid of dying from the red death, and he tried

distracting them with the party, but the clock awoke them from their fake reality.

Continuing on, Poe once again foreshadows and commences the people at Prosero’s

Masquerade to their death. While the rich were having fun they, “became aware of the presence

of a masked figure, which had arrested the attention of no single individual before...But the

mummer had gone so far as to assume the type of the Red Death,” this figure leads to, “one by

one dropped the revellers in the blood-bedewed halls of the revel.” (Poe pg5) Which meant that

one of the guests must have been contaminated with the Red Death, which lead to the death of

the revellers. This was important since they tried to hide from the red death, through the means

of locking everyone out, while they had fun in their maskerade. As the prince noticed the figure

he ordered the guests to, “ seize him and unmask him -- that we may know whom we have to

hang at sunrise, but as the guests pursued him they stopped and, “there were found none who put

forth hand to seize him.” The guests didn’t touch the figure because they knew that once they

touched the figure it would be their death. This made the guests afraid of touching the figure,

since they knew they would die if they did, showing death they were scared to die. In the end, the

masked figure was someone that was infected with the red death, which caused the people in the

maskerade to die due to the disease.

To finish off, Poe truly foreshadows the guests deaths from the 7th and final room. As the

guests walk through all 7 rooms they each have a theme to them but, “the seventh compartment

was closely shrouded in black velvet tapestries that hung all over the ceiling and down the

walls,” the windows did not correspond with the black velvet it was, “scarlet-- a deep blood

color.”(Poe 2). This meant that Prince Prospero wanted to have this room represent death since

all the other rooms correspond with the theme of death. This was also key due to the fact that

Prospero is mocking death seeing how he made all 7 of his rooms represent the cycle of life,

basically asking for death to enter his Abbey. As Prince Prosperro died, “a throng of revellers at

once threw themselves into the black apartment,” and as they were in that room, “gasped in

horror at finding the grave cerements and corpse like mask.” (Poe 4-5) The revellers were willing

to hide in the room that symbolizes death, showing that they had accepted death. The revellers

feared death the whole duration of the story, but at the moment they entered that room they

accepted their imminent demise. To summarize, Poe used this room to build up what was going

to happen to all of Prospero’s guests in the end.

In the attempt of the revelers to avoid being infected with the Red Death, but that only

sealed their fate. Poe used the literary devices of the clock, the masked figure, Etc to foreshadow

the inevitable deaths of the revellers. The In Conclusion, in the short story, “​The Masque of the

Red Deat​h,” Edgar Allen Poe tries to get across the message that one cannot hide from death

through using an allegory and figurative language.