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

915 WordsApr 2, 20124 Pages
Michael Reyes Symbolism and in Edgar Allan Poe's the Masque of the Red Death Thesis: Poe uses symbolism to unfold this gripping tale of terror. “The Masque of the Red Death” is an allegory. It features a set of recognizable symbols whose meanings combine to convey a message. An allegory always operates on two levels of meaning: the literal elements of the plot (the colors of the rooms, for example) and their symbolic counterparts, which often involve large philosophical concepts (such as life and death). This can be read as an allegory about life and death and the powerlessness of humans to evade the grip of death. The Red Death thus represents both literally and allegorically how in the end no one man can overcome death. We will…show more content…
Poe makes it a point to arrange the rooms running from east to west. This progression is symbolically significant because it represents the life cycle of a day: the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, with night symbolizing death. What transforms this set of symbols into an allegory, however, is the further symbolic treatment of the twenty-four hour life cycle: it translates to the realm of human beings. This progression from east to west, performed by both Prospero and the mysterious guest, symbolizes the human journey from birth to death. Poe crafts the last, black room as the ominous endpoint, the room the guests fear just as they fear death. The "Black Room" is described vividly. “The seventh apartment was closely shrouded in black velvet tapestries that hung all over the ceiling and down the walls, falling in heavy folds upon a carpet of the same material and hue. But in this chamber the windows failed to correspond with the decorations. The panes were scarlet-a deep blood color" (73). This room is a symbol of the end. There were seven rooms, and this was the last one. However not apparent at the beginning it is to be the scene of the grand finally; where "Prince Prospero" meets his demise by the hand of "The Red Death". In conclusion I believe this symbolism in this story is a hidden attempt to show man that he/she cannot turn its back to the woes of the world. One man or group cannot turn his/her back on society because sooner or later the problems
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