Essay Masq of the red death Edgar Alan poe

Submitted By seanharrison
Words: 1210
Pages: 5

Sean Harrison
Kelly Daubek
English 201
9 February 2014
Literary Analysis
Symbolism, Imagery, and Metaphor in
‘The Masque of the Red Death’ by Edger A. Poe Edgar A. Poe is one of the most widely read and acclaimed writers of fiction. He is regarded by many as one of the greatest literary artists of his time. His works have been evaluated, interpreted and dissected with the scrutiny of an insatiably curious mortician, one who, above all, seeks to fathom the inner workings of the deceased. Such is the fascination that avid fans of Poe exude, and it is by stepping foot in this stream of thought that we will begin an analysis of the symbolism, imagery, and metaphor in ‘The Masque of the Red Death’ by Edgar A. Poe. In the fiction we are introduced to a protagonist by the name of Prince Prospero. He is a worldly and sagacious figure. His kingdom has however been corrupted by an illness known as the “Red Death” which brings demise to all who encounter its form. In an effort to rid himself of the misfortune brought about by the plague Prince Prospero closes himself and a thousand of his lighthearted friends inside wrought iron gates. In this way he attempts to forget the troubles of his dominion and to protect himself from infection. Prospero and his friends stay in a castellated abbey where he decides to throw a party. Within this convent there are seven rooms located throughout, each illuminated by a fire which shines its light through a stained-glass window on the outside of the room. Each room is assigned a color that corresponds to the light that comes through the window except for the seventh and most Western room. This room is black and is illuminated by the color red. Not Prospero or any of his guests dare enter this room. Within the seventh chamber is an ebony clock that rings every hour on the hour. Each time the melodic sound reaches the guests it brings a numinous and foreboding air to the atmosphere of the jovial affair. By the close of the story and at the stroke of midnight an unwelcomed guest is noticed among the members. This uninvited character brings with him the demise of Prince Prospero and all of his companions. Notwithstanding the evidence of this short summary, the title of this short work is enough to lend strong indication to even the most tepid observer of a pervasive theme throughout this piece; the matter of death. Throughout the narrative we see this topic expressed in many different forms. Through the use of imagery, symbolism, metaphor, and personification the notion of death comes to life. At the beginning of the tale we encounter the pestilence known as the “Red Death”, and its expression is blood. We are described a horrendous form of suffering and passing where the victim experiences bleeding through the pores and will ultimately reach their demise in half an hours’ time. Time is another motif expressed throughout this tragedy by the use of a giant black clock that stands against the western wall of one of the seven imperial suits that is also farthest to the west. Each of these rooms ordered from East to West has a corresponding color. The first and farthest East is blue, next is purple, then green, orange, white, violet, and the seventh is black. The movement from East to West can be likened to rising and setting sun symbolizing the cycle of birth and death, or the passage of time. With this idea each room may represent a phase in an individual’s life. Beginning with birth and passing through childhood, adolescence, adulthood, middle-age, old-age, and ultimately ending with death. The chiming of the clock could then be said to signify the passing from one stage of development to the next. Hence the tone would bring with it a somber realization to each of the guests reminding them of their terrestrial impermanence. Throughout the ages the number seven has been a significant number to humankind. We see it expressed in a multitude of symbolic and natural forms from the…