The Theme Of Death In The Masque Of The Red Death By Edgar Allan Poe

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Death is inevitable and while one can attempt to prolong life, death will always overtake in the end. The Middle Ages brought terror upon the people due to the bubonic plague and the death that followed the sickness. During this time, people channeled their fears into their artwork, literature, and music. Edgar Allan Poe, a nineteenth-century writer, had many of the women in his life die and, as a result, wrote many short stories and poems with gloomy tones. His short story “The Masque of the Red Death” is a tale of nobles who strive to hide from those infected with bubonic plague and escape the death that succeeds it. In “The Masque of the Red Death,” Edgar Allan Poe illustrates man’s power struggle of avoiding death and avails the conflict …show more content…
After Death reveals himself at the party, Poe says “And Darkness and Decay and the Red Death held illimitable dominion overall” (Poe, par 14). Poe portrays Death as having ultimate power over man. In his criticism, Leonard Cassuto introduces the idea that, “Death is the author of Prospero’s fate in more ways than one” (Cassuto). Death is the fate of Prospero and the guests overall, but Death also dictated how, where, and when Prospero and the nobles will meet their end. Throughout his story, Poe uses Death as the omniscient narrator to describe the setting and the plot of his story, confirming that Death is always present within the abbey. In the critique by Peter Cerowsky, he states, “There is indeed allegory in the very first sentence of the story when the plague is spoken of as the ‘Red Death’” (Cerowsky). Cerowsky supports the idea that Death is the narrator by declaring that Death is personified as a character in the first line. Poe’s representation of Death’s power and presence exemplifies its imminence.
Poe’s use of symbolism, character conflict, and fate depict man’s power struggle of avoiding death and the allegory of his story. Edgar Allan Poe’s personal experience with death led him to write “The Masque” as a way of expressing that there is no possible way to stop death and channeled this into his writing, much like the people of the Middle Ages who linked it into their literature and art. Poe’s underlying theme in this short story is that death is inevitable and it is every man’s

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