Symbolism And Morality In The Masque Of The Red Death

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Symbolism and Morality in “The Masque of the Red Death”
Edgar Allan Poe likes to keep his readers guessing. Poe writes in analogy, in questions. There is nothing immediately obvious about Poe’s short stories. Readers must read through the lines, literally and figuratively, to define his work. “The Masque of the Red Death” is no different. “‘The Masque of the Red Death’ suggests that we might stay alert to Poe’s tendency to be ambivalent about, to disguise, and to vary his treatment not only of the concerns he stresses in his theory but also in his fiction,” (Shulman 249). In “The Masque of the Red Death,” Edgar Allan Poe uses Prince Prospero to represent death as he incorporates the appearance of life and death based on morality and color
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There are several rooms with different colors at Prospero’s Masquerade Ball. Each room represents a different stage of life, ultimately leading to death. H.H. Bell, Jr. elaborates: “In other words, the imperial suite or life span of Prospero is enclosed or embraced by two closed corridors or, if you will, by two unknowns. These two unknowns could very well be thought of as the unknowns of birth and death which in effect enclose or embrace the life of any man,” (102). This is important to Poe’s argument about death because it shows that we are all affected by death. The first room is blue: “Since blue may thus be associated with the unknown, by extension of meaning it may reasonably be associated in this instance with the beginning of life, which is unknown also,” (Bell 103). The first stage of life is unknown. We may not have our morals intact yet. Everything is …show more content…
The final room is black. Fitting, for the room of death: “Poe tells us that the seventh room is black, a color easily and most often associated with death…” (Bell 104). This room is a reminder of the time that has passed in one’s life. This is where Poe explains a true death: “Lastly, let it be noted that the clock of death, though it is heard in all the rooms, is heard best in the seventh or room of death,” (Bell 104). This is the judgment room. This is when death is imminent. All of the rooms are part of a process toward death. One, including Prospero, must make their way through each room as a journey of life…to death. Color symbolism is pertinent to the story: “Admitting that color symbolism can be rather vague at best, there nevertheless appears to be enough evidence in the text of the story to warrant certain pertinent conclusions concerning Poe’s use of such symbolism here,” (Bell 103). Death is represented through color symbolism in this way. Prospero takes us on the journey to death. Poe finishes the “The Masque of the Red Death” with Prospero’s end: “And now was acknowledged the presence of the Red Death. He had come like a thief in the night. And one by one dropped the revellers in the blood-bedewed halls of their revel, and died each in the despairing posture of his fall,” (Poe 54). Death is the common theme in this particular Poe short story; death is the final destination for the protagonist, Prince

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