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The Masque O the Red Death

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Edgar Allen Poe's The Masque of the Red Death is an elaborate allegory/microcosm that combines objects in the story with visual descriptions to give focus to the reader's imagination. In the story, a prince named Prospero tries to dodge the Red Death through isolation and seclusion. He hides behind seemingly impenetrable walls of his castellated abbey and lets the world take care of its own. However, no walls can stop death because it is inescapable and inevitable. Visual descriptions in the story are used to symbolize death. Poe's use of language and symbolism is shown in his description of the seventh room in the suite, the ebony clock, and the fire.

The first symbolic mean of death is depicted in the seventh room in the suite. Poe says, "The seventh apartment was closely 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". He uses the seventh room to symbolize the final stage of life, death. He sees the black velvet tapestries as blood flowing from the ceiling and walls to the floor. The relationship between blood and death is important because he wants the reader to have a visual image of the blood pouring down the walls as a form of death.

The fire lighting the suite of rooms is another object in the story that represented death. He says, "...There stood, opposite to each window, a heavy tripod, bearing a brazier of fire that projected its rays through the tinted glass... However, in the western or black chamber the effect of the firelight that streamed upon the dark hangings through the blood-tinted panes, was ghastly in the extreme, and produced so wild a look upon the countenances of those who entered..."The fire was meant to produce a shadowy atmosphere in the west and a favorable one in the east. This is symbolic to the sunrise in the east and sunset in the west because light means life and darkness means death. Poe uses darkness as another visual representation of death.

The gigantic clock of ebony is another symbolic object in the story. "Its pendulum swung to and fro with a dull, heavy, monotonous clang; and when the minute hand made the was observed that the giddiest turned pale, and the more aged and sedate passed their hands over their brows as if in confused reverie or meditation". Hour



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