Avoiding Reality: “The Masque of the Red Death” Analysis Essay

857 Words Jan 12th, 2014 4 Pages
Brandon DeLeon
McCloud
English 2H
November 4, 2013
Avoiding Reality: “The Masque of the Red Death” Analysis
Throughout the gothic horror short story, “The Masque of the Red Death”, Edgar Allan Poe illustrates the struggle of an egotistical prince who refuses to face the inevitable reality of death. Through the downfall of the protagonist, Poe establishes the idea that the inability to face reality often leads to the destruction of the mind. The downfall of the Prince is emphasized by Poe’s use of characterization, setting, and symbolism. In the short story, “Masque of the Red Death”, Edgar Allen Poe uses characterization to illustrate the psychological destruction of the Prince. Throughout the story, Prince Prospero struggles with
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Prospero believes that hiding in his own castle allows him to escape inevitability. As his life ticks away, Prospero constructs a physical manifestation of his life from beginning to end in the 7 doors. In his vivid depiction of the chambers themselves, Poe explains, “That at the eastern extremity was hung, 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 lighted with orange --the fifth with white --the sixth with violet. The seventh apartment was closely shrouded in black velvet tapestries.” (421) Poe’s description of each of the 7 chambers, starting from the east and ending in the west each symbolizes a stage of human life. The blue chamber which was farthest to the east, represented the creation of life or rebirth, purple embodies the begging of life, the green represents youth, orange resembles the autumn of life, white suggests the idea of aging, violet symbolizes the beginning of death, and the black chamber which was furthest to the west denotes death. The final method by which Poe describes his overarching tenet are the symbolic phases of Prospero’s psychological death. The chiming of the clock symbolizes the passing moments of one’s life and the approach of death: The stroke of midnight, signifies psychological death for Prospero. Poe attempts to

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