Symbolism in the 'Masque of the Red Death' by Edgar Allen Poe

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Symbolism in "The Masque of the Red Death" The Masque of the Red Death is a short story written by acclaimed literary author, Edgar Allen Poe. The story is an emphasis on the fact that there is no avoiding death, no matter how hard you try, which is the overall theme. The text tells the story of Prince Prospero whose town is being plagued by the dreaded Red Death. He attempts to avoid the plague by inviting 1,000 of his closest friends, all of which are variably different, to isolate themselves in his palace. Throughout the story, Poe frequently uses symbolism to depict the theme of the Red Death. Poe was a master of the English language and even laid hints to the overall theme of the story with simple symbolic phrases. At one point he…show more content…
Those who cannot afford to run from the Red Death. This is important because it will eventually wrap the entire story together. Poe wants to emphasize the theme being that no one can escape death. This is meant to include the rich and powerful. Prospero is royalty and seeing his town being destroyed by the Red Death, attempts to avoid it using all his wealth and power. Again Hubert Zapf explains in his essay that Prospero has created a "castellated abbey, whose architecture is a power-structure against the lower classes and against the Red Death." But nothing can keep death away, no matter who you are. This is a common element in Poe 's stories when dealing with death, and he makes it known by using the castle as the backdrop of the city being plagued. Then there is of course, the Red Death. It may seem obvious but the Red Death represents death. Now even though "death" is in its name, the Red Death is a personification of death sort of like the grim reaper is to modern day story telling. He comes out during the masquerade ball and leads the visitors to question who he is. When Prospero sees this character, he chases him through all levels of apartments, eventually meeting up with him in a vital confrontation. This symbolic representation of death tells the reader the overall theme, as many of these symbols have. It will always lead to death catching up with whoever you are. Then there is the argument that the narrator himself is the Red Death.
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