Masque of the Red Death Symboloism Essay

Submitted By brianna_nichelle21
Words: 1217
Pages: 5

Symbolism If only I had a sign….. How many times have you heard that phrase? Every day we seek out, and or observe signs or symbols of events to come. Symbols are everywhere, often times though we tend to overlook them. “Masque of the Red Death” by Edgar Allen Poe uses symbolism of approaching death throughout the story. It is an allegory which means that absolutely everything in the story is symbolic of something, but there are a few things that stick out more symbolically than any others. The taunting ebony clock, the rooms within the castle, and the mysterious masked phantom himself are the objects that illustrate the most symbolism. Unquestionably, the ebony clock is representative of death. In the story the guests displayed their subtle hints of fear whenever the clock chimed the hour away. At the top of the hour, every time the clock would sound, everything and everyone would stop and just listen until the moment of disarray passed. ”And then, for a moment, all is still, and all is silent save the voice of the clock” (377). There was not a soul in the castle that looked forward to the hourly chiming “it was observed that even the giddiest grew pale, and the more aged and sedate passed their hands over their brows as if in confused reverie or meditation” (374). Any clock represents the passing of time, but it seemed as if all the guests somehow knew that in some way at the end of the night, the last monotonous chime would be the end of them. They all tried to put their worries aside with nervous laughter, but the fear was never subdued. With every tick, the anticipation for what was to come grew within them all. The significance of the clock is evident as it is mentioned several times throughout the story. At not even one of these instances are the guests’ reactions any different, in fact the suspense seems to increase with the hour. The tension peaks when on the stroke of midnight, the guests notice the intruder. By the time the clock strikes one, death has shown its dreadful face and all have fallen. So, with the last sound of the clock ends the last life in the castle and all is silenced permanently. “And the life of the ebony clock went out with that of the last of the gay” (380). In addition to the clock, the seven rooms of the castle have some relation to death as well. Each element of the rooms is significant. First, the rooms are described from east to west. This is symbolic of a beginning and an end to life, just as each day begins with the rising of the sun in the east and ends with the setting in the west. Secondly, every room is uniquely colored. Each color illustrates a stage of human life. The rooms begin with blue symbolizing the start of life at birth, and end with black representing the stillness of death. In between these two rooms are purple representing the developmental stage, green representing childhood where one springs into life, orange exhibiting early adulthood and the highlights of one’s life, white signifying the peacefulness and purity of old age, and violet illustrating the very last moments of life right before death. All of the rooms, with the exception of the black room, had a large gothic window that was color coordinated with the room. The black room had a window with the pane a color of deep blood red which was illuminated by the burning fire behind it. Another imperative detail is that the black room also housed the ebony clock, and just as the guests feared the clock, they feared the room. “But in the western or black chamber the effect of the firelight that streamed upon the dark hangings through the blood- tinted panes, was ghastly in the extreme, and produced so wild a look upon the countenances of those who entered, that there were few of the company bold enough to set foot within its precincts at all” (374). The ball was being held in the blue room and all was well until the unwelcomed guest was observed. The prince chased it through the rooms with admirable