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

1468 Words 6 Pages
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
…show more content…
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