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Writer Customer English 20 March 2011 Thematic Analysis of Death in the Masque of Red Death by Edgar Allan Poe 1. Introduction Edgar Allan Poe is known as one of the pioneers of gothic literature and he incorporates a variety of gothic elements in his prose to create an aura of mystery and suspense that keeps the readers enthralled till the end of a story…
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A literary analysis of The Red Masque of Death
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Download file to see previous pages He also used gothic tales at times to raise questions about the cultural anxieties of his era…” (50). Similarly the Masque of Red Death is one of the master pieces of Poe’s works. This story depicts a tale of the lives of the aristocracy. In order to save his loyal and noble friends and their families from a fatal disease called Red Death Prince Prospero arranges for an estate where all his fellow aristocrats would be safe from the death and disease. Through this story Poe mocks the social hierarchy and its discrimination according to which the commoners should suffer all the decay and disease as stated in the story, “the external world could take care of itself” (106). Here the external world represents the commoners while the nobles are kept safe in the walls of the royal estate. Poe makes use of various stylistic and linguistic techniques in his short story to illustrate death which is the bitterest reality of life and tries to make his readers understand that in the eyes of God and fate bloodlines hold no importance because the ultimate end of every human being is death. 2. Theme of Death The concept of death that Poe uses in the story itself represents plague. This plague can be perceived as the decaying and degeneration of human morals and ethical values, injustices of the social hierarchy as well as the invincible side of human nature that leads them to believe that this life is permanent instead of a temporary habitat. The various techniques that Poe uses to demonstrate the theme of death includes color imagery, symbol of the seven rooms and the indirect amalgamation of the concepts of Christian mythology with over all destruction and degeneration that is usually associated with death. 2.1. Color Imagery As it is also apparent from the title the red color has a lot of symbolic significance in the prose as red is the color of passion and it is also associated with anger and wrath. In terms of the title the color red can also be interpreted as the symbolic representation of wrath of Poe that is directed towards the absurd social strictures of the society and the mentality of human beings who believe that wealth and royal bloodlines gives them the testimony and asserts that misery and suffering cannot reach them because of their superior stature in the society. As Sova also suggests, “The story also contains elements of an allegory that represents death as being inseparable despite one’s social status and all human efforts to run from it and shut it out” (110). The gradual progression of the inhabitants of Prospero’s estate from one colored room to another at the party also holds a lot of symbolic significance. As Quinn and Rosenheim also state that, “The description of luxurious chambers of prince prospero leads, step by step, to flaming scarlet of the last room, which throws its weird light against the ebony blackness of the velvet curtains” (331). The contrast of red against black is very dark yet vibrant. According to Pennell’s understanding, “…decorated in black the final room glows in red the two colors associated with passion and death” (55). Another interpretation of this contrasting pairing of the two colors can also be that it is Poe’s style of mocking his fellow beings according to which black symbolizes the monotonous life and ignorance of the elite class and figuratively the eminent red color reiterates a death knell or an ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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