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“The Masque of the Red Death” Review

Updated June 8, 2022
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“The Masque of the Red Death” Review essay

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Life and death, arguably the greatest mystery of all, is portrayed in The Masque of the Red Death as something ominously inevitable. Set in a castellated abbey with solid fortifications, those who enter cannot escape… ever. This aspect not only adds to Poe’s horrific and twisted tale but also serves as a metaphor about the inescapability of death.

Within the castellated abbey are seven separately colored rooms, each subtly representing a stage in the course of life and death. Starting with the easternmost room, painted a serene blue, it is heavily suggested to symbolize birth and the bloom of new life. The next room is purple, a combination of blue and red, which signifies growth and excitement. Moving on to the green room, where youth springs with vibrance, this may be considered a peak in one’s lifetime. Then, following the seasonal theme, is the orange room, displaying the effects of autumn. Within this room, lives gradually dwindle, coming down from the peaks of livelihood. Further west lies the white room, where aging and physical changes occur. Guests of this room may imagine themselves with brittle bones, faded hair, and wrinkled skin. This is likely the stage where people reflect on their lives and come to terms with the certainty of death. The remaining two rooms, arguably the most morbid of them all, are violet and black. The violet room may be interpreted as a warning that death is closing near, and its darkness is lurking just around the corner. Finally, the black room, representing nothing other than death itself, emits an unsettling vibe to those in its presence. People tend to avoid this room, hoping ignorance will somehow make it disappear along with death.

Characters locked away in the castellated abbey plan to bathe in pleasure whilst the rest of the world writhes below aside the plague. Prince Prospero, the orchestrator of the grand haven and the seven rooms, parties routinely with his noble knights and beautiful ladies. Said parties include peculiar costumes, masked buffoons, nimble dancers, talented musicians, dreamlike art, and wine galore. Partygoers tend to gravitate towards the easternmost, lighthearted rooms as opposed to the westernmost, threatening rooms. This is likely due to their shared fear of death and the unknown. Additionally, within the black room is a massive clock, constantly ticking as a reminder that life is on a timer. As each hour passes, the clock’s chime shatters through the party commotion, causing the crowd to freeze momentarily. Nervous laughter breaks the silence as fear haunts everyone to the core.

By this point it should be evident that death is an inescapable event, no matter how strongly people refuse to believe it. Those hidden within the castellated abbey may feel a sense of safety from the Red Death, although deep down they probably know the truth: locked doors and sturdy walls cannot halt the course of life and death. This revelation is proven when the Red Death appears amid the festivities. At first, others are disgusted by the stranger’s “costume” depicting the Red Death, unaware of its authenticity. The fact that the Red Death can linger unnoticed in plain sight presents another similarity to death itself. As suspicions arise and partygoers face the truth, Prince Prospero fills with rage. His massive ego and rejection of death leads him to chase the Red Death, determined to kill it (the irony in this scene is remarkably prominent). The climactic chase maneuvers through each of the seven rooms, starting with the blue one. Upon reaching the black room, Prince Prospero is forced to face death (both literally and metaphorically), slowly deteriorating from the inside out. Blood gushes from his pores and grotesque contortions compel his limbs, ultimately resulting in a gruesome end. Shortly after, Prospero’s equally enraged followers charge after the Red Death, only to face the same conclusion as their beloved Prince.

In conclusion, the recurring themes throughout this passage (fear, death, fear of death) reveal the inevitable fact that no one is safeguarded from death; each path of life leads to the same dead end.

“The Masque of the Red Death” Review essay

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“The Masque of the Red Death” Review. (2022, Jun 08). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/the-masque-of-the-red-death-review/

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