Death in Edgar Allan Poe's Life and The Masque of the Red Death

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Death in Edgar Allan Poe's Life and The Masque of the Red Death

As a man surrounded by death and horrible happenings, it is no wonder
that almost the entire collection of Edgar Allan Poe's works is about death.
When Poe was very young, his father left his mother alone with three young
children. At the age of two, Poe lost his mother. Many other deaths and terrible
occurrences manifested themselves in Poe's life, from the refusal of his
adoptive father, John Allan, to accept Poe's attempts at reconciliation, to the
request he could not fulfill of his dying adoptive mother, Fanny Allan. "To a
world fascinated by the bizarre and the macabre, Poe has often seemed an
embodiment of the satanic characters of his own
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71). The contrast between
this opening paragraph and the following paragraph is much like that of a
love-hate relationship. The idea of the main character in the tale, Prince
Prospero, being "happy and dauntless and sagacious" in the second paragraph
makes the death-related words in the first paragraph that much more horrific.
The "iron walls" blocking out the plague make for a strong contender, but the
final two sentences of the second paragraph prepare the reader for the
inevitable, "All these and security were within. Without was the 'Red Death'"
(Ransome ed. 71-72). The idea that the plague can be held out forever becomes
the certainty that "Death cannot be barred from the palace...because it is in the
blood" (Kennedy 202).

Considered Poe's "most lavish evocation of fatality," The Masque of
the Red Death shows the futile attempts by a prince and his guests of a party,
which happens to be Prince Prospero's ball of "unusual magnificence", to isolate
themselves from the contagion of the Red Death plague (Ransome ed. 72). The
themes of the uncertainty of death, and the efforts made to run from the
inevitable, show the uncertainties Poe had about death. The themes…