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Comparing the Symbolism of the Houses in the Red Death and House of Usher

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Comparing the Symbolism of the Houses in the Red Death and House of Usher

Most stories have occurrences of symbolism. Symbols are used everyday in many different ways. For instance, the Bald Eagle is used to symbolize the determination and nobility of our United States of America. In both the Masque of the Red Death and the Fall of the House of Usher, the symbolic nature of the House plays an imperative role.

The House in the Red Death was a very elaborate and colorful establishment. Each room inside of this enormous house is decorated in a different hue. The easternmost room is decorated in blue, with blue stained-glass windows. The next room is purple with the same color stained-glass windows, then green, then orange, then white, then violet. The seventh room is black, with red windows. Accompanying this last room is a giant wooden clock. Every hour on the hour the clock emits a deafening gong, which puts an immediate halt to any ongoing activities. The fact that the rooms go from east to west is supposed to symbolize life on earth. The sun rises in the east, sets in the west. Our life cycle also follows that pattern. If you look at a typical twenty-four hour day, the day is "born" in the east and "dies" in the west. Along with the rooms following an east to west pattern, the color schemes in the rooms also follow this pattern. The first rooms go from blue, which represents the beginning of the day, or life, to purple, green, orange and finally the white room represents noontime. Next comes violet followed by the last room, which is black with red windows symbolizing the end of the day, or the end of life.

The whole purpose of these rooms being decorated in the first place is due to the fact that Prince Prospero has decided to throw a ball for all the rich people in the nearby village, which is being plagued by a fatal disease known as the Red Death. All the rich folk run away to the mansion in hopes of eluding the Red Death. In the meantime at the ball, everyone is having a great time. It seems as though they are almost disregarding the fact that there is a plague going on. They almost have the mentality that as long as they hide out in the mansion, they will be immune to the Red Death. The narrator of this story describes to the reader of how no one is venturing into the seventh room. This could be for many reasons. First off, it is the closest room to the giant wooden clock, which makes a noise proportional to its size. As mentioned before, every time the clock strikes the hour, it emits a thunderous chime, which in turn puts an immediate halt to the festivities.

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