The Theme Of Death In The Masque Of The Red Death

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In the end, death has the final word. In Edgar Allan Poe’s dark short story “The Masque of the Red Death,” Prince Prospero invites the remaining healthy members of a community to hide away in his quarantined castle while the outside is plagued by the personified Red Death. Once Death enters the castle, it leaves no survivors. In “The Masque of the Red Death” Poe often depicts his characters’ actions as insane, but seemingly normal and fails to recognize that they are ludicrous; he then rejects and contrasts the beliefs in the Bible, in order to arrive at an all encompassing theme of an absolutely ineludible death. Because Prince Prospero behaves strangely, Poe calls his mental health into question by manipulating polysyndeton that forces …show more content…
The Red Death, “…had come [to the party] like a thief in the night. And one by one dropped the revelers in the blood-bedewed halls of their revel, and died each in the despairing posture of his [Prospero’s] fall,” (Poe 4). Similarly, the Holy Bible tells of a moment when death will come, “…you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night,” (New International Version 1 Thess. 5.2). Poe alludes to this verse by utilizing the simile, “like a thief in the night,” then refurbishing it in order to repudiate the Holy Bible and make clear his belief in the supernatural. During 1842, when “The Masque of the Red Death” was published, Christianity was not prevalent in England, and most of the population was paranormally inclined. Poe has the Red Death play an evil God and eliminate all life in the castle, being sure to not leave one untouched. Poe ignores the story of Jesus Christ beating death and “…rejects the notion that Christ takes the veil of death away by having his masquer, the Red Death, wear a veil that cannot be taken away,” (Cheney 2). Cheney points out that the author mocks scripture that states that Jesus took the veil of death away, by placing a permanent veil on his own character of death. This reiterates and supports the claim that Poe was not Christian. …show more content…
The dark and eerie mansion of the ironically named Prince Prospero is complete with, “…a gigantic clock of ebony…” that ominously swings “…to and fro with a dull, heavy, monotonous clang,” (Poe 2). Poe goes on to mention that when the clock chimes, all else falls silent. The enormous clock he speaks of symbolizes death, which acts as an intruder at the party. No matter if the musicians are playing or the people are dancing, when the clock (death) begins to stir, every guest is forced to recognize its presence and endure its company. As this clock runs and “…the minute-hand made the circuit of the face, and the hour was to be stricken, there came a sound which was clear and loud and deep,” (Poe 2). Poe includes the diction “stricken” rather than the conventional past tense of “strike” (struck) because stricken has a double meaning. Stricken is defined as, afflicted by an unpleasant feeling. This alerts the reader that not only does this clock keep time, but symbolizes the foreboding danger to all that death is on its way. “The many adventures in Poe’s stories reflect a morbid psychological instability and underline a man’s anxiety in his abandonment, his existential anguish, and the longing of the soul for escape,” (Zayed 333). Poe uses many of his stories to tell truths that people don’t want to hear. For example, that

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