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

1991 Words 8 Pages
A Worthy Way to Live and Die According to Edgar Allan Poe Edgar Allan Poe is known for his masterful writing on all aspects of mortality and death, but his famous short story “The Masque of the Red Death” proves to be more than a simple story about death. While it is about death, Poe’s short story can be read and applied as a cautionary tale whose purpose is to illustrate a worthy way to live and die by portraying the opposite of both. This interpretation comes about when the story is viewed through the lens of New Criticism. This viewpoint shows how the story uses its formal elements to create one complex theme. While complex, the parts of the theme converge to form one overlapping theme to take away from the story and the creation of a theme …show more content…
The host of the party and leader of the revelries is paradoxical in his reasoning. His lavish house is built up as a fortress to withstand the destruction of disease that “had long devastated the country” (Poe 269). This lavish stronghold is Prospero’s own attempt to avoid death. The party occurring within the mansion serves to establish an atmosphere of pure celebration and revelry to contrast the feeling of people facing a deadly plague. This deep contrast furthers the host’s feelings toward death by establishing not only his avoidance of death, but also his outright disbelief that death itself can conquer his own being (Delli Santi). He seems to ignore death’s existence all together and scoffs at the idea that it is indomitable by his own wealth and power. This paradox of avoiding that which is unavoidable works to form the beginning of the story’s theme by conveying that death truly is an unavoidable part of the human …show more content…
The story contains extensive descriptions of all aspects of Prospero’s party and yet provides very little information pertaining to the location of the Prospero’s abbey. The only references to the surrounding simply refer to it as “the country” and “dominions” (Poe 269). The ambiguity of setting makes it more universal and applicable turning the story into a cautionary tale or parable. This transforms its theme into something to be taken seriously and learned from (Sova 110). Ambiguity also resides in the title of the Poe’s short story. The word “masque” can be taken literally, but it also immediately denotes another meaning. The spoken word evokes the physical mask that Death wears to the party. However, “masque” is defined as a masquerade party instead of a physical mask. Since the story is entitled “The Masque of the Red Death,” it suggests Death has ownership of the party (Magnuson 31). The all-conquering guest replaces Prospero as the host of the party and in turn, ruler over the

Related Documents

Related Topics