Symbolism in the Masque of the Red Death Essay

802 WordsAug 29, 20054 Pages
Arrogance Kills Edgar Allen Poe's "The Masque of the Red Death" is a typical dark Poe story, but it contains some unique themes and symbolism. In the story a disease known as the Red Death is ravaging the fictional place where the story is set, and it causes its victims to die quickly and painfully. Even though this disease is spreading rampantly, the prince, Prospero, does not care. He decides to lock the gates of his palace in order to keep away from the plague, ignoring the illness that is ravaging the land. Although he possesses the wealth to assist his people, he uses his wealth to protect all the rich people (Poe 386). This story is full of multilayered symbolism and allegory for how Poe viewed life and America in general. After…show more content…
At midnight a new guest appears, dressed more eerily than the rest of the guests. His mask looks like the face of a corpse, he is wearing a funeral shroud, and his face has spots of blood like the victims of the Red Death. Prospero gets mad that someone would be so audacious as to mock him like that. The other guests are so scared that they don't stop the new guest and allow him to walk all the way to the black room. Prospero finally catches up to the new guest in the black room. As soon as he confronts the new guest, Prospero dies. Everyone else is so surprised, and now mad, that they rush in to attack the figure, but when they get to it there is nothing but a pile of clothes and a mask. They all die of the Red Death (Poe 388). "And Darkness and Decay and the Red Death held illimitable dominion over all" (Poe 390). The new guest obviously represents the Red Death and his entry into the party symbolizes that you cannot run from the inevitable, which in this case is dying from the Red Death or on a larger scale, life and death in general. When Prospero follows the new guest from the first room to the last, black room, it represents the journey from birth to death that everyone, once again, inevitably, takes. There is also some economic symbolism, some of which I have already mentioned. Prospero is rich and doesn't care about the poor, so I think that the Red Death is some sort of economic equalizer or an early communist
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