Fate In The Masque Of The Red Death

1801 Words 8 Pages
Humans try to prevent the inevitable, yet they do not attempt to achieve the uncertain. Throughout history, people have endured fatal invasions, brutal weather, societal regulations, and plagues. During a plague’s outburst, Prince Prospero invites one-thousand companions for protection from the illness by secluding the party in his ‘castellated abbey’ to wait until the plague’s termination. Prince Prospero attempted to use his wealth and reputation to overcome nature. Prospero decided that he would try to have victory over nature by the false thought that he had control of his life. In Edgar Allen Poe’s The Masque of the Red Death, Poe uses the conflict for power over death, fear, and fate to enhance the theme of the story. Prospero knew …show more content…
In the very beginning of her literary criticism, Wheat states, “When Prince Prospero and his thousand carefree friends shut themselves up in a fortified abbey to escape the fearful Red Death and make merry...Thomas Mabbot believes ‘one cannot run away from responsibility.’” (Wheat par. 1). Wheat quoted Mabbot, in saying that the “carefree friends” cannot escape their responsibility, which, in this case, is the companion’s fate. They shelter themselves in Prospero’s abbey for a while but with time, they the disease gets in. Victims of the plague are burdened with death- which was their fate since the outbreak of the plague. In the beginning, after half of the population has perished, the story explains, “...knights and dames of his court and with these retired to the deep seclusion of one of his castellated abbey,” (paragraph 2). The fate of the population in this situation is their death; they will not be protected from the plague, it will somehow find its way to creep up on someone. However, Prospero has tried to change the fate of hundreds by keeping him safe through this lockdown. He believes that his efforts to save these people will not be in vain and that they will all be able to outlast this malady. In the abbey, after the seven rooms are described, in the seventh room, which is black with red tinted windows, there is a “gigantic …show more content…
After everyone is slaughtered by the plague and the final bell of the ominous clock’s lullaby, the narrator exclaims, “And Darkness and Decay and the Red Death held illimitable dominion over all,” (Poe 452). Poe ends his story with this line to proclaim that death will reign supreme no matter the number of obstacles Prospero gives the plague. The word choice Poe uses, “Dominion over all,”, resonates the pure idea that power will never be in one’s grasp. This explicitly pressures the theme, of being powerlessness, onto the reader; in doing so, this reveals that Prospero’s fight for life could have been a truly unintelligent battle or a fight of his pride that his creation, the abbey, could withstand such an inevitable force. Then, in Cassuto’s literary criticism of Poe’s tale, Cassuto states, ”The Red Death is indeed extraordinary, but so must be the narrator...The only one who ‘lives’ is Death. The narrator must be Death himself,” (Cassuto 8-9). Cassuto states that the Red Death, or narrator, is extraordinary. The Red Death is ‘great’ in the aspect that everyone in the abbey died except the Red Death. The plague had reaped, what seemed to be, the final stand of humanity and finally had victory. Once the thief-like being has been described, it is stated, “‘The Masque of the Red Death’ speaks of what is most threatening to the crowd, the

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