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The Mask of the Red Death

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Analysis of "The Mask of the Red Death"

American author Edgar Allen Poe (1809-1849) wrote many poems and short stories back in the 1800s. Poe is said by some to have virtually created the detective story and perfected the psychological thrill. These works include "The Raven," "The Murders in the Rue Morgue," "The Fall of Usher House," and "The Mask of the Red Death" (April 30, 1842). In the fantasy short story Poe uses certain magical elements that are not accepted by the reader as being real. Because these magical elements are not accepted by the reader as being real this story is an example of the Fantastic genre and not a part of Magical Realism, because in Magical Realism they unreal is accepted as real by both the reader and the characters in the story.

In "The Mask of the Red Death," Edgar Allen Poe has the ability to evoke imagery and texualize the reader through the "extensive use of detail" (Faris 169). By doing so, I believe that Poe achieves textualization of the reader because we as human tend to use our imagination to help us see things that are there when they are described to us in great detail to us. By using this ability, it seems as though we are a part of the book and not just reading it. In the following passage, Poe describes the rooms that are in Prince Prospero's abbey:

The eastern extremity was huge, for example, in blue- and vividly blue

were its windows. The second chamber was purple in its ornaments and

tapestries, and here the panes were purple. The third was green

throughout, and so were the casements. The fourth was furnished

and litten with orange- the fifth with white- the sixth with violet. (483)

After barely describing the fifth and the sixth chambers, he goes back on to describe the seventh chamber in a more vivid detail as being:

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 only, the color of the windows failed to correspond

with the decorations. The panes here were scarlet- a deep blood color. (483)

Also in "The Mask of the Red Death," Poe uses the technique of de-familiarization or "radically emphasizing a common element of reality" (Simpkins 150) to tell his story. Poe achieves this effect by de-familiarizing the Red Death's ability to kill its victims at the masquerade. This is evident when:

The revelers at once threw themselves into the black apartment, and,

seizing the mummer, whose figure stood erect and motionless

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