The Inevitability of the Red Death

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The Inevitability of the Red Death Edgar Allen Poe's “The Masque of the Red Death” is an extravagant allegory of the futility of trying to escape death. In the story, a prince named Prospero tries to avoid the Red Death through isolation and seclusion. He hides behind the impenetrable walls of his castle and turns his back on the rest of the world. But no walls can stop death because it is unavoidable and inevitable. Through the use of character, setting, point of view, and symbol, Poe reveals the theme that no one, regardless of status, wealth or power can stay the passing of time and the inevitable conclusion of life itself, death. Like many of Poe’s works, the number of characters in “Masque of the Red Death” is limited;…show more content…
The nameless narrator in “The Masque of the Red Death” is no different. The story is told mostly from the point of view of a narrator who seems to have observed firsthand the happenings of the story and is recounting the tale. This is important because the story concludes with the death of Prospero and all one thousand of his guests. Effectively, there could be no survivors; any eyewitnesses to the events of the ball would be dead as well. However, the narrator gives the reader several clues to his identity, by using first person language on three occasions. First is in his description of the scene of the masquerade: “But first let me tell of the rooms in which it was held” (Poe, 386). Second is his description of the pause at midnight: “And then the music ceased, as I have told; and the evolutions of the waltzers were quieted; and there was an uneasy cessation of all things as before” (Poe, 388). The third time comes with his description of the arrival of the Red Death: “In an assembly of phantasms such as I have painted, it may well be supposed that no ordinary appearance could have excited such sensation” (Poe, 389). The narrator therefore must have been present at the ball, and obviously he survived. This leaves the reader with an interesting dilemma, “How could the narrator be present at the ball and then be able to tell about it afterwards?”
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