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The Masque Of The Red Death Analysis



Author: Prose of Edgar Allen Poe Type: Prose Views: 7501

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THE "Red Death" had long devastated the country. No pestilence had ever been so fatal, or so hideous. Blood was its Avatar and its seal --the redness and the horror of blood. There were sharp pains, and sudden dizziness, and then profuse bleeding at the pores, with dissolution. The scarlet stains upon the body and especially upon the face of the victim, were the pest ban which shut him out from the aid and from the sympathy of his fellow-men. And the whole seizure, progress and termination of the disease, were the incidents of half an hour.
But the Prince Prospero was happy and dauntless and sagacious. When his dominions were half depopulated, he summoned to his presence a thousand hale and light-hearted friends from among the knights and dames of his court, and with these retired to the deep seclusion of one of his castellated abbeys. This was an extensive and magnificent structure, the creation of the prince's own eccentric yet august taste. A strong and lofty wall girdled it in. This wall had gates of iron. The courtiers, having entered, brought furnaces and massy hammers and welded the bolts. They resolved to leave means neither of ingress or egress to the sudden impulses of despair or of frenzy from within. The abbey was amply provisioned. With such precautions the courtiers might bid defiance to contagion. The external world could take care of itself. In the meantime it was folly to grieve, or to think. The prince had provided all the appliances of pleasure. There were buffoons, there were improvisatori, there were ballet-dancers, there were musicians, there was Beauty, there was wine. All these and security were within. Without was the "Red Death."
It was toward the close of the fifth or sixth month of his seclusion, and while the pestilence raged most furiously abroad, that the Prince Prospero entertained his thousand friends at a masked ball of the most unusual magnificence.
It was a voluptuous scene, that masquerade. But first let me tell of the rooms in which it was held. There were seven --an imperial suite. In many palaces, however, such suites form a long and straight vista, while the folding doors slide back nearly to the walls on either hand, so that the view of the whole extent is scarcely impeded. Here the case was very different; as might have been expected from the duke's love of the bizarre. The apartments were so irregularly disposed that the vision embraced but little more than one at a time. There was a sharp turn at every twenty or thirty yards, and at each turn a novel effect. To the right and left, in the middle of each wall, a tall and narrow Gothic window looked out upon a closed corridor which pursued the windings of the suite. These windows were of stained glass whose color varied in accordance with the prevailing hue of the decorations of the chamber into which it opened. That at the eastern extremity was hung, for example, in blue --and vividly blue were its windows. The second chamber was purple in its ornaments and tapestries, and here the panes were purple. The third was green throughout, and so were the casements. The fourth was furnished and lighted with orange --the fifth with white --the sixth with violet. The seventh apartment was closely shrouded in black velvet tapestries that hung all over the ceiling and down the walls, falling in heavy folds upon a carpet of the same material and hue. But in this chamber only, the color of the windows failed to correspond with the decorations. The panes here were scarlet --a deep blood color. Now in no one of the seven apartments was there any lamp or candelabrum, amid the profusion of golden ornaments that lay scattered to and fro or depended from the roof. There was no light of any kind emanating from lamp or candle within the suite of chambers. But in the corridors that followed the suite, there stood, opposite to each window, a heavy tripod, bearing a brazier of fire that protected its rays through the tinted glass and so glaringly illumined the room. And thus were produced a multitude of gaudy and fantastic appearances. But in the western or black chamber the effect of the fire-light that streamed upon the dark hangings through the blood-tinted panes, was ghastly in the extreme, and produced so wild a look upon the countenances of those who entered, that there were few of the company bold enough to set foot within its precincts at all.
It was in this apartment, also, that there stood against the western wall, a gigantic clock of ebony. Its pendulum swung to and fro with a dull, heavy, monotonous clang; and when the minute-hand made the circuit of the face, and the hour was to be stricken, there came from the brazen lungs of the clock a sound which was clear and loud and deep and exceedingly musical, but of so peculiar a note and emphasis that, at each lapse of an hour, the musicians of the orchestra were constrained to pause, momentarily, in their performance, to hearken to the sound; and thus the waltzers perforce ceased their evolutions; and there was a brief disconcert of the whole gay company; and, while the chimes of the clock yet rang, it was observed that the giddiest grew pale, and the more aged and sedate passed their hands over their brows as if in confused reverie or meditation. But when the echoes had fully ceased, a light laughter at once pervaded the assembly; the musicians looked at each other and smiled as if at their own nervousness and folly, and made whispering vows, each to the other, that the next chiming of the clock should produce in them no similar emotion; and then, after the lapse of sixty minutes, (which embrace three thousand and six hundred seconds of the Time that flies,) there came yet another chiming of the clock, and then were the same disconcert and tremulousness and meditation as before.
But, in spite of these things, it was a gay and magnificent revel. The tastes of the duke were peculiar. He had a fine eye for colors and effects. He disregarded the decora of mere fashion. His plans were bold and fiery, and his conceptions glowed with barbaric lustre. There are some who would have thought him mad. His followers felt that he was not. It was necessary to hear and see and touch him to be sure that he was not.
He had directed, in great part, the moveable embellishments of the seven chambers, upon occasion of this great fete; and it was his own guiding taste which had given character to the masqueraders. Be sure they were grotesque. There were much glare and glitter and piquancy and phantasm --much of what has been since seen in "Hernani." There were arabesque figures with unsuited limbs and appointments. There were delirious fancies such as the madman fashions. There was much of the beautiful, much of the wanton, much of the bizarre, something of the terrible, and not a little of that which might have excited disgust. To and fro in the seven chambers there stalked, in fact, a multitude of dreams. And these --the dreams --writhed in and about, taking hue from the rooms, and causing the wild music of the orchestra to seem as the echo of their steps. And, anon, there strikes the ebony clock which stands in the hall of the velvet. And then, for a moment, all is still, and all is silent save the voice of the clock. The dreams are stiff-frozen as they stand. But the echoes of the chime die away --they have endured but an instant --and a light, half-subdued laughter floats after them as they depart. And now again the music swells, and the dreams live, and writhe to and fro more merrily than ever, taking hue from the many-tinted windows through which stream the rays from the tripods. But to the chamber which lies most westwardly of the seven, there are now none of the maskers who venture; for the night is waning away; and there flows a ruddier light through the blood-colored panes; and the blackness of the sable drapery appals; and to him whose foot falls upon the sable carpet, there comes from the near clock of ebony a muffled peal more solemnly emphatic than any which reaches their ears who indulge in the more remote gaieties of the other apartments.
But these other apartments were densely crowded, and in them beat feverishly the heart of life. And the revel went whirlingly on, until at length there commenced the sounding of midnight upon the clock. And then the music ceased, as I have told; and the evolutions of the waltzers were quieted; and there was an uneasy cessation of all things as before. But now there were twelve strokes to be sounded by the bell of the clock; and thus it happened, perhaps, that more of thought crept, with more of time, into the meditations of the thoughtful among those who revelled. And thus, too, it happened, perhaps, that before the last echoes of the last chime had utterly sunk into silence, there were many individuals in the crowd who had found leisure to become aware of the presence of a masked figure which had arrested the attention of no single individual before. And the rumor of this new presence having spread itself whisperingly around, there arose at length from the whole company a buzz, or murmur, expressive of disapprobation and surprise --then, finally, of terror, of horror, and of disgust.
In an assembly of phantasms such as I have painted, it may well be supposed that no ordinary appearance could have excited such sensation. In truth the masquerade license of the night was nearly unlimited; but the figure in question had out-Heroded Herod, and gone beyond the bounds of even the prince's indefinite decorum. There are chords in the hearts of the most reckless which cannot be touched without emotion. Even with the utterly lost, to whom life and death are equally jests, there are matters of which no jest can be made. The whole company, indeed, seemed now deeply to feel that in the costume and bearing of the stranger neither wit nor propriety existed. The figure was tall and gaunt, and shrouded from head to foot in the habiliments of the grave. The mask which concealed the visage was made so nearly to resemble the countenance of a stiffened corpse that the closest scrutiny must have had difficulty in detecting the cheat. And yet all this might have been endured, if not approved, by the mad revellers around. But the mummer had gone so far as to assume the type of the Red Death. His vesture was dabbled in blood --and his broad brow, with all the features of the face, was besprinkled with the scarlet horror.
When the eyes of Prince Prospero fell upon this spectral image (which with a slow and solemn movement, as if more fully to sustain its role, stalked to and fro among the waltzers) he was seen to be convulsed, in the first moment with a strong shudder either of terror or distaste; but, in the next, his brow reddened with rage.
"Who dares?" he demanded hoarsely of the courtiers who stood near him --"who dares insult us with this blasphemous mockery? Seize him and unmask him --that we may know whom we have to hang at sunrise, from the battlements!"
It was in the eastern or blue chamber in which stood the Prince Prospero as he uttered these words. They rang throughout the seven rooms loudly and clearly --for the prince was a bold and robust man, and the music had become hushed at the waving of his hand.
It was in the blue room where stood the prince, with a group of pale courtiers by his side. At first, as he spoke, there was a slight rushing movement of this group in the direction of the intruder, who at the moment was also near at hand, and now, with deliberate and stately step, made closer approach to the speaker. But from a certain nameless awe with which the mad assumptions of the mummer had inspired the whole party, there were found none who put forth hand to seize him; so that, unimpeded, he passed within a yard of the prince's person; and, while the vast assembly, as if with one impulse, shrank from the centres of the rooms to the walls, he made his way uninterruptedly, but with the same solemn and measured step which had distinguished him from the first, through the blue chamber to the purple --through the purple to the green --through the green to the orange --through this again to the white --and even thence to the violet, ere a decided movement had been made to arrest him. It was then, however, that the Prince Prospero, maddening with rage and the shame of his own momentary cowardice, rushed hurriedly through the six chambers, while none followed him on account of a deadly terror that had seized upon all. He bore aloft a drawn dagger, and had approached, in rapid impetuosity, to within three or four feet of the retreating figure, when the latter, having attained the extremity of the velvet apartment, turned suddenly and confronted his pursuer. There was a sharp cry --and the dagger dropped gleaming upon the sable carpet, upon which, instantly afterwards, fell prostrate in death the Prince Prospero. Then, summoning the wild courage of despair, a throng of the revellers at once threw themselves into the black apartment, and, seizing the mummer, whose tall figure stood erect and motionless within the shadow of the ebony clock, gasped in unutterable horror at finding the grave-cerements and corpse-like mask which they handled with so violent a rudeness, untenanted by any tangible form.
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. And the life of the ebony clock went out with that of the last of the gay. And the flames of the tripods expired. And Darkness and Decay and the Red Death held illimitable dominion over all.





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||| Analysis | Critique | Overview Below |||

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the seven rooms represent the prince\'s life. the first room light colored and on the east side to so a start of life. the last room dark and at the end to show death.

| Posted on 2012-10-04 | by a guest


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everyone will go from life to death oneday. anyone wont escape from death. theme of black death.

| Posted on 2011-11-11 | by a guest


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The masque of the red death is very long but for some reason i enjoyed reading it.
Although any interpretation has merit by a relationship as supported within the tale, it is those very aspects in combination with other details that are ignored or left unexplained that we must consider; and I refer to the tremendous failing and faltering that seems incredibly predominant in recent works written on the internet that we may regard as interpretive in the form of a summation – and by writers that seem confident in their analysis, if nothing more because they have prominence.
The ‘Masque of the Red Death’ has multiple meanings, but where can we find a story that encompasses all the others and is complete enough to honor the author’s uncanny unity in this beautiful prose work. It is in this success, that one may touch the genius of Poe himself.
It is irrelevant to question the idea of allegory – based on Poe’s critical ideas about its use – for it is in the story itself that we must delve. Other tales or works by Poe and other writers are useful, but not necessary. To be sure “the Red Death” contains allegory, and of an explicit nature. And in this blaze of allegory we have symbolism woven throughout, but I believe it a mistake to assign a tangible pattern in the author’s conscience life experience (Poe’s lifetime) at the time of writing. Some for instance, have stated the belief that the disease of the Red Death is really symbolic of tuberculosis or cholera (because he experienced a “cholera outbreak”). Such speculation is outside the merit of the story proper, and has at best a vague relationship. Worse still, is assigning a motive as to why all the characters in the story meet their demise. (One person was silly enough to direct the whole meaning as an attack on the rich – who in their protective castellated abbey are not immune to the Red Death.) There is nothing in the story to support this, and at best it distracts the reader’s attention away from other aspects conveyed throughout. Let us stay within the bounds of the writing itself, for here we shall find an incredible assortment of descriptively vivid details, even in the form of a short story.
The story begins: ‘The “Red Death” had long devastated the country. No pestilence had ever been so fatal or so hideous – blood was its Avatar and its seal - the redness and the horror of blood’. The initial foundation of the story follows, and we understand the motives for isolation, for the incurable death needs to be avoided or forgotten – at least in a sagacious fashion. Thus “ingress” (entrance) and “egress” (exit) are utilized to distance the Prince and his followers from the Red Death’s threat. This results in the disease raging “most furiously abroad”.
Yet there is another beginning that expresses a strict relation to the end – where the Prince Prospero falls “prostrate in death” in a chamber lighted by a tripod (bearing a brazier of fire) from the following corridor that produces a blood bedewed effect. It is in the description of the chambers that a deeper interpretation of the story begins, and it is important to note that the chamber where the Prince expires is different from the other six: “But in this chamber only the colors in the windows failed to correspond with the decorations”. Poe makes an effort to distinguish this distant or 7th chamber by various symbols: the black velvet tapestries, and the presence of the Ebony Clock. His distinction is explicit: “But in the western or black chamber the effect of the firelight that streamed upon the dark hangings through the blood-tinted pains was ghastly to the extreme and produced so wild a look upon the countenances of those who entered, that there were few of the company bold enough to set foot within its precincts at all”. I think it abhorrent that many – indeed almost none – have mentioned the chambers in their attempt at an analysis of this work. Consider an ebony clock in a chamber with walls of velvet, except in the varying instances of scarlet flickering there is only blackness, and here the repose is one of blindness or something utterly feared or unknown yet bizarre enough to allow few - almost none the boldness to set foot within. A sound emanates from such a chamber, a sound that can be heard throughout – it is the striking of the ebony clock – and it seems to confuse or pause the characters – as if its source were unknown or unrecognized, or perhaps even feared – for it becomes evident that the sound is repeated. Poe writes that the masqueraders respond with the same trepidation and tremulousness (meaning trembling or quivering) as before.
Much can be made of the chambers, and the story itself leaves little to the pure imagination when the words are carefully considered: It is made clear that the decorations (in the chambers) are a result of the Prince’s peculiar taste, and that each chamber can only be viewed from a connecting suite to the previous chamber, so that the whole cannot be viewed at once. The waltzers, and musicians are disrupted by the unique chiming of the clock, and all can hear Prospero – Poe elaborates on his robust nature – yet later the company are aware at the mere waving of his hand. It seems contrary when one considers the compartments, where each at every 30 yards turn impedes the view of the next one. It is becoming apparent that everything is but a creation of the Prince’s mind, for in a ball full of revellers, how can they be so in tune with his every whim. Prospero reminds us of Shakespeare’s “Prospero” in ‘The Tempest’, a magician who controlled the others in the play. The setting is on an island – from which “ingress” and “egress” are similarly present.
Now consider the words of the author himself, and the rest is clear – we start with his elaborative description of the chambers: “He had directed, in great part, the movable embellishments of the seven chambers…and it was his own guiding taste which had given character to the masqueraders.” Here in a direct manner Poe adds, “To and fro in the seven chambers there stalked, in fact, a multitude of dreams. And these – the dreams – writhed in and about, taking hue from the rooms, and causing the wild music of the orchestra to seem as the echo of their steps. And, anon, there strikes the ebony clock which stands in the hall of the velvet. And then, for a moment, all is still, and all is silent save the voice of the clock. The dreams are stiff-frozen as they stand. Eventually, the chimes die away, and a light half-subdued laughter returns as the dreams live once again.” But as he describes, the night is waning, and the light is ruddier, and it affects the maskers so that they move away from the more remote recesses and “to him whose foot falls upon the sable carpet…there comes from the clock a muffled peal more solemnly emphatic” (here, I believe the author is referring to a beating or ticking). The other apartments were densely crowded, “and in them beat feverishly the heart of life”. The muffled peal in the seventh chamber and the feverishly beating heart of life are sentences crafted very carefully.
It has become evident, that the story is but a dream – but by whom? It must be the Prince, because he is in every aspect of the telling, and more startlingly – his “own embellishments” and taste, and waving of the hand become symbols of his control over all the others. The others are ‘self-functioning’ in one way; they will almost never venture into the velvet chamber (also in another – “it was folly to grieve or to think”). Is the Prince the dreamer? Perhaps this is the intention, but it need not be so, for a dream could give that role to its possessor. Either way “Prospero” is the characterized link to the dream’s creative essence. Other aspects, including the author describing the masquerade license of the night as nearly unlimited, lean towards the dream idea. But even withal this, Poe reminds us that “even with the utterly lost, to w

| Posted on 2011-09-13 | by a guest


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Interesting story, I still prefer Tell Tale Heart though..

| Posted on 2011-08-15 | by a guest


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everyone else has done a great job interpreting this mind-racking story! hats-off to all of you...

| Posted on 2011-04-18 | by a guest


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may be if we look at the story once again and taking away the concept of universal fear or collective consciousness, is it possible that this text is literally applicable to Poe\'s life? May have been that he had experience fear of catching a certain disease or epidemic in their society for the time being?

| Posted on 2011-03-27 | by a guest


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may be if we look at the story once again and taking away the concept of universal fear or collective consciousness, is it possible that this text is literally applicable to Poe\'s life? May have been that he had experience fear of catching a certain disease or epidemic in their society for the time being?

| Posted on 2011-03-27 | by a guest


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Why should we completely try to analyse and disect Poe\'s beautiful and complex story into something so simple. We will never know exactly what he meant, and he probably never expected or meant us to. Read and enjoy this story, and you will find new surprises each time you dive in.

| Posted on 2011-03-22 | by a guest


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what is aj dramaric irony in the story the masque of the red death?
.

| Posted on 2011-03-18 | by a guest


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Thanks so much for the help this information was extremely helpful for me. When you hear what his life was like and all that he went through you realize that behind that genius was an extremely tortured soul.Its no wonder most of his poetry is dark. Death was always knocking at his door just not for him most of the time. It was the people he loved.

| Posted on 2011-02-16 | by a guest


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In the story Poe mentions a few objects in some of the rooms. For example the ebony clock in the black room and the ornaments and tapestries in the purple room. I am in agreement with the idea that the rooms represent the stages of life, so do you think that the objects in the room pretain to the specific time periods, in life, that the individual rooms represnet?

| Posted on 2011-01-04 | by a guest


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The rooms also represent the 7 deadly sins. The clock remindes the guest that when it rings the death is still with them. The Guest only enter the seventh room when the guest arrives (the masked figure) the they all go to the seventh room and die the first the host ( the Prince). It is saying the Prince and guest think they will escape the Red Death with their riches.
The masked person is the Red Death and the mask sympolizes how the people of that day hid that they had the red death by hiding their face.

| Posted on 2011-01-02 | by a guest


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Thank you everyone you really helped me with my english homework. thak you so much

| Posted on 2010-11-09 | by a guest


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The rooms do represent the 7 stages of life. The clock represents life ticking, that is why "The older and more sedate" seemed to be afraid, because they are worried that they are dying on the chime, as the chime represents death. The abbey represents how people try to escape death. And in the story, the person with the red mask is Death, or the Red Death. Poe put this in to say how none could escape death, and life must end at a time. And how the rooms were positioned East to West, East being at the beginning and West at the end. East is the direction that the sun rises, and west is where it sets. Life rises, then sets.

| Posted on 2010-05-05 | by a guest


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Why can no one seem to use proper grammar or spelling? I mean it's ironic due to the fact that this is an analysis thread on a story from a significant figure in American literature.

| Posted on 2010-05-05 | by a guest


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The seven rooms represent Shakespears seven stages of life. They are set in a zigzag and you can't see into the next room from one room is because you cannot see into the next stage of life. The blue room is the beginning of life. Also, where it's set at so it's the sunrise. The black room is symbolizing death. It's placed there because of the sunset. The clock respresents that they don't have much time left, that they will die eventually. Prince prospero and his castle represent false security. They party hard to try to escape the thoughts of red death. The whole story is just one big symbolisim basically.

| Posted on 2010-03-27 | by a guest


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Thanks you everybody. Your analysis helped me understand the story 10x better.

| Posted on 2010-02-08 | by a guest


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alright. the guests and the clock. the clock is a symbol of life ticking away. every time it chimes the guests and music stop playing and become frightened and pale. without telling you, it means that all in that room know what is to become of them. they have one less hour to live.

| Posted on 2009-12-08 | by a guest


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The clock is at the western wall of the black room, the sun sets in the west. this can represent the end of time for the day, or in this story the end of life.

| Posted on 2009-11-01 | by a guest


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The clock is at the western wall of the black room, the sun sets in the west. this can represent the end of time for the day, or in this story the end of life.

| Posted on 2009-11-01 | by a guest


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The clock is at the western wall of the black room, the sun sets in the west. this can represent the end of time for the day, or in this story the end of life.

| Posted on 2009-11-01 | by a guest


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The clock is at the western wall of the black room, the sun sets in the west. this can represent the end of time for the day, or in this story the end of life.

| Posted on 2009-11-01 | by a guest


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I need help answering a question on this story!
HOW DO THE GUESTS RESPOND TO THE CHIMING OF THE EBONY CLOCK?
i hope someone could give me this answer
email it to
thanks

| Posted on 2009-10-29 | by a guest


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OMG!!! I'm twelve years old and i had to read this in English! It took me FOREVER to understand, but i finally get it! The seven rooms symbolize the seven deadly sins. The red death is supposed to be the black plague and show how prince pospero aka Edgar Allen Poe was trying to run from the black plague. In throwing his party in the abby he was trying to have God protect him and keep the black plague away. But one of the guests had the black plague, and no one caught him because every time it passed someone, that person would just die. I think Poe was trying to tell people not to run from their fears and just live their lives. Also that hiding away will ruin your life more than having a short happy life and dying. So if a little twelve year old can understand this story, so can all of you adults out there.
PS. I'm in AP english

| Posted on 2009-10-28 | by a guest


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also about the seven rooms:
since the narrator says there were twists and turns every few feet. also if you were in the blue room, you couldnt see into the next room. since the rooms symbolize life, this means that you cannot predict your future or your death

| Posted on 2009-10-25 | by a guest


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This was an amazing story. I definitely enjoyed reading it. I understand that, in the beginning, it's vewry confusing. However, once you read it over and over again, you'll start to understand the meaning of this story. Obviously, 7 was an important symbol in this story. 7 is a Biblical number. For example, God created the world in 7 days, the Seven Pillars, etc.
I can't wait to read the other masterpieces of Edgar Allan Poe. By the way, I'm thirteen, and I understood this magnificient masterpiece of Poe.

| Posted on 2009-10-22 | by a guest


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This story confused me at first but now i understand it. The Prince was unaware of the true power of the Red Death. He thought he was unvulnerable to the plague and continued living his life as if nothing was wrong. He threw a party, invited friends and locked the doors to his castle. While in the party Death entered and showed the Prince and his friends that no one can escape Death and everyone is vulnerable to it. .

| Posted on 2009-10-21 | by a guest


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THE PEOPLE NWHO TALK ABOUT DILDO'S NEED TO STOP POES AN AMAZING WRITER AND KEEP YOUR SICK COMMENTS TO YOURSELF.

| Posted on 2009-09-02 | by a guest


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(My English teacher came up with most of it)
Anyways, the 7 rooms might symbolize more than stages of Prince Prospero's life. The number 7 is also a biblical number. God created the world in 7 days, there are 7 deadly sins, there were 7 years of prosperity and 7 years of famine in the Pharaoh's dream, there are 7 days a week,etc. And that's not a Christian symbol: the number 7 is important in many other religions too.
The clock has been a very important element throughout the story. What it might symbolize, which might also be the moral of the story is that no matter what you do to avoid death, it will always catch up to you, and that it is only a matter of time.
I don't mean that anything that someone else said is wrong, I'm just adding something.
ps: I'm 12 too so stop complaining (addressed to the person that was)

| Posted on 2009-06-11 | by a guest


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thank you everyone you are really helping me on my english project.

| Posted on 2009-03-13 | by a guest


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UI love the dildo poe. Hye a im a guy too wannw get t0hhgertr and explode?

| Posted on 2009-03-09 | by a guest


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The rooms being arranged from east to west? Could resemble the passing of time.
As the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, the clock creeps the guests out every hour on the hour. As the time goes by, so does their time to live. It's no coincidence that the room most to the west, is the black and red room. The only room the guests don't really go to. The room where Prospero meets his demise. The ebony(black) clock let's Prospero know that his time is up. That the RED death will be the death of him.
Prospero was trying to keep the Red Death out, and imprisons himself in the process, ironically enough.
Poe always claimed to write artistically just for art's sake... but many of his stories use allegory anyway.
He was brilliant, regardless.

| Posted on 2009-03-09 | by a guest


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First time i read this story i believed the rooms from east to west symbolized parts of his life, second time through though, i started to realize prespero's insanity alittle more, and the rooms, randoms oddness, making it more clear that its much more then just stages or life, its much more like whats said about, its insanity, or rooms that Symbolize prospero himself.

| Posted on 2008-11-20 | by a guest


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the second post really helped me because we are doing a project at school involving the rooms and their symbols, thXXX!
and the story is really mysterious and its great!

| Posted on 2008-11-01 | by a guest


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we are doing a project at crater high school in mis preara class good story.

| Posted on 2008-10-16 | by a guest


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The seven rooms could also symbolism to many things. Blue, meaning insanity. Prospero and his guests were, in fact, insane trying to escape the Red Death (Tuberculosis). Thus is the "birth" of insanity.
Purple represents both nobility and spirituality. Prospero and his guests were noble, either through birth or through money making them believe they could hide under their money or titles, spirituality comes in when fate and life is taking its own course. It is inevitable and Prospero and his guests are attempting stop it. Meaning their "earliest stages" of "life". Beginning to an end.
Green could mean a number of things... Jealousy, growing, ect, but it could also mean inexperience. Prospero and his guests obviously did not know that death will come, meaning they are inexperienced in life. Their "growing up" stage.
Orange denotes warmth and energy, which all of the guests, and Prospero, were exhibiting during the party. Again, the "growing up" stage of life.
White means purity and cleanliness, which none at the party exhibited. But white also means innocence, also which none really exhibited past "child-like innocence" for believing they could cheat death. White is this "To the human eye, white is a brilliant color that can cause headaches for some. Too much bright white can be blinding." And blinded, Prospero and the party-goers were for believing they could outrun fate. The part in life where you believe you are unstoppable but there is a voice in your head which tells you that you are quite vulnerable (symbolized in the story by the ebony clock).
Violet, being a darker color, represents a closing, or "dusk". It also represents awareness, wisdom, and drama. Near the end of the story as Prospero passes through the Violet room, it was apparent that Prospero would die. The oldest stages in your life where you begin to see the world for what it is, you gain wisdom while all else around you is dramatic.
Black symbolizes a great deal of things; mystery, sexiness, and death. The black room was, I believe, meant to symbolize mystery when Prospero erected it, but in the end all it did was symbolize death. An accident on Prospero's part I am sure.
The rooms going from east to west show the course of one's life. You can not stop the sun from rising and falling, which is where the ebony clock comes in. You only live for so long and you can not stop time.

| Posted on 2008-09-30 | by a guest


.: :.

I have to read this story and i am only 12!! omg help me!

| Posted on 2008-09-28 | by a guest


.: :.

i didn't understand this peice at all, i have to read it for school, and i wont get a good grade because of it.

| Posted on 2008-09-16 | by a guest


.: stoery :.

Wow this is amazing.
I read it in my English class.
I think that the rooms symbolize the stages of life.
The black rooms means death. This whole story means that you can not ever escape death and the "red death" was an immagination, eveeryone was so scared of it that they started imagining things. And the big clock meant that each tick is coming closer to their end.
It keeps ticking until it everyone dies.

| Posted on 2008-05-28 | by a guest


.: An Analysis of Poe’s Masq :.

Although any interpretation has merit by a relationship as supported within the tale, it is those very aspects in combination with other details that are ignored or left unexplained that we must consider; and I refer to the tremendous failing and faltering that seems incredibly predominant in recent works written on the internet that we may regard as interpretive in the form of a summation – and by writers that seem confident in their analysis, if nothing more because they have prominence.

The ‘Masque of the Red Death’ has multiple meanings, but where can we find a story that encompasses all the others and is complete enough to honor the author’s uncanny unity in this beautiful prose work. It is in this success, that one may touch the genius of Poe himself.

It is irrelevant to question the idea of allegory – based on Poe’s critical ideas about its use – for it is in the story itself that we must delve. Other tales or works by Poe and other writers are useful, but not necessary. To be sure “the Red Death” contains allegory, and of an explicit nature. And in this blaze of allegory we have symbolism woven throughout, but I believe it a mistake to assign a tangible pattern in the author’s conscience life experience (Poe’s lifetime) at the time of writing. Some for instance, have stated the belief that the disease of the Red Death is really symbolic of tuberculosis or cholera (because he experienced a “cholera outbreak”). Such speculation is outside the merit of the story proper, and has at best a vague relationship. Worse still, is assigning a motive as to why all the characters in the story meet their demise. (One person was silly enough to direct the whole meaning as an attack on the rich – who in their protective castellated abbey are not immune to the Red Death.) There is nothing in the story to support this, and at best it distracts the reader’s attention away from other aspects conveyed throughout. Let us stay within the bounds of the writing itself, for here we shall find an incredible assortment of descriptively vivid details, even in the form of a short story.

The story begins: ‘The “Red Death” had long devastated the country. No pestilence had ever been so fatal or so hideous – blood was its Avatar and its seal - the redness and the horror of blood’. The initial foundation of the story follows, and we understand the motives for isolation, for the incurable death needs to be avoided or forgotten – at least in a sagacious fashion. Thus “ingress” (entrance) and “egress” (exit) are utilized to distance the Prince and his followers from the Red Death’s threat. This results in the disease raging “most furiously abroad”.

Yet there is another beginning that expresses a strict relation to the end – where the Prince Prospero falls “prostrate in death” in a chamber lighted by a tripod (bearing a brazier of fire) from the following corridor that produces a blood bedewed effect. It is in the description of the chambers that a deeper interpretation of the story begins, and it is important to note that the chamber where the Prince expires is different from the other six: “But in this chamber only the colors in the windows failed to correspond with the decorations”. Poe makes an effort to distinguish this distant or 7th chamber by various symbols: the black velvet tapestries, and the presence of the Ebony Clock. His distinction is explicit: “But in the western or black chamber the effect of the firelight that streamed upon the dark hangings through the blood-tinted pains was ghastly to the extreme and produced so wild a look upon the countenances of those who entered, that there were few of the company bold enough to set foot within its precincts at all”. I think it abhorrent that many – indeed almost none – have mentioned the chambers in their attempt at an analysis of this work. Consider an ebony clock in a chamber with walls of velvet, except in the varying instances of scarlet flickering there is only blackness, and here the repose is one of blindness or something utterly feared or unknown yet bizarre enough to allow few - almost none the boldness to set foot within. A sound emanates from such a chamber, a sound that can be heard throughout – it is the striking of the ebony clock – and it seems to confuse or pause the characters – as if its source were unknown or unrecognized, or perhaps even feared – for it becomes evident that the sound is repeated. Poe writes that the masqueraders respond with the same trepidation and tremulousness (meaning trembling or quivering) as before.

Much can be made of the chambers, and the story itself leaves little to the pure imagination when the words are carefully considered: It is made clear that the decorations (in the chambers) are a result of the Prince’s peculiar taste, and that each chamber can only be viewed from a connecting suite to the previous chamber, so that the whole cannot be viewed at once. The waltzers, and musicians are disrupted by the unique chiming of the clock, and all can hear Prospero – Poe elaborates on his robust nature – yet later the company are aware at the mere waving of his hand. It seems contrary when one considers the compartments, where each at every 30 yards turn impedes the view of the next one. It is becoming apparent that everything is but a creation of the Prince’s mind, for in a ball full of revellers, how can they be so in tune with his every whim. Prospero reminds us of Shakespeare’s “Prospero” in ‘The Tempest’, a magician who controlled the others in the play. The setting is on an island – from which “ingress” and “egress” are similarly present.

Now consider the words of the author himself, and the rest is clear – we start with his elaborative description of the chambers: “He had directed, in great part, the movable embellishments of the seven chambers…and it was his own guiding taste which had given character to the masqueraders.” Here in a direct manner Poe adds, “To and fro in the seven chambers there stalked, in fact, a multitude of dreams. And these – the dreams – writhed in and about, taking hue from the rooms, and causing the wild music of the orchestra to seem as the echo of their steps. And, anon, there strikes the ebony clock which stands in the hall of the velvet. And then, for a moment, all is still, and all is silent save the voice of the clock. The dreams are stiff-frozen as they stand. Eventually, the chimes die away, and a light half-subdued laughter returns as the dreams live once again.” But as he describes, the night is waning, and the light is ruddier, and it affects the maskers so that they move away from the more remote recesses and “to him whose foot falls upon the sable carpet…there comes from the clock a muffled peal more solemnly emphatic” (here, I believe the author is referring to a beating or ticking). The other apartments were densely crowded, “and in them beat feverishly the heart of life”. The muffled peal in the seventh chamber and the feverishly beating heart of life are sentences crafted very carefully.

It has become evident, that the story is but a dream – but by whom? It must be the Prince, because he is in every aspect of the telling, and more startlingly – his “own embellishments” and taste, and waving of the hand become symbols of his control over all the others. The others are ‘self-functioning’ in one way; they will almost never venture into the velvet chamber (also in another – “it was folly to grieve or to think”). Is the Prince the dreamer? Perhaps this is the intention, but it need not be so, for a dream could give that role to its possessor. Either way “Prospero” is the characterized link to the dream’s creative essence. Other aspects, including the author describing the masquerade license of the night as nearly unlimited, lean towards the dream idea. But even withal this, Poe reminds us that “even with the utterly lost, to whom life and death are equally jests, there are matters of which no jest can be made”. This last comment could be aimed at the dreamer and the dreamed.

Now, what of the dreamer? Does anything happen to him? Yes, I believe Poe gives an angle into the state of the dreamer. His description of the chambers: the other apartments were densely crowded, “and in them beat feverishly the heart of life”, and towards the climax we have – “there comes from the clock a muffled peal more solemnly emphatic”. The seventh chamber is a threat to the dream, for the clock-like heart that beats “feverishly” resides there, and in the avoidance of its grotesqueness we have a resistance to awaken. The dreamer resists and his clock-like heart summons to awaken. There is the physical state of the dreamer, and its relation to the mental state – both dreamed and awakened.

The “Red Death” or mummer is later revealed to consist of “no tangible form”, and is a symbol of fatality – of the dream and perhaps its possessor – whose heart beats feverishly. The Price’s followers are described in various ways, but Poe calls them “phantasms” (a thing with no reality, a figment of the mind). And finally we have a dissipation of the setting, where after the Prince rushes through all the chambers to confront the Red Death himself, seems to disappear. After Prospero falls “prostrate in death” a throng of revellers at once throw themselves into the black compartment, and end up dropping one by one, “and the life of the ebony clock went out with that of the last of the gay. And the flames of the tripods expired. And the Red Death and darkness and decay held illimitable dominion over all”.

The ending hints at the immediate demise of all things after the life of the clock is out, as the dreamer may still be marginally aware in the story (unlike the Prince) until then. But the demise could go one step further – holding illimitable dominion over all – to the dreamer.

Of course one may argue a similar meaning as implied to anyone (or the Prince) in the course of life, as death awaits all – even the compartments or chambers – can support this idea. But they are but afterthoughts or encompassed hints, whether biblically interpreted or otherwise (Herod). For all this and much, much more adds support to the dream interpretation, as Poe has in fact, made explicitly clear in the telling – because all that is in the story – can only be consistent with this one approach.

Anthony Jameson


| Posted on 2007-10-03 | by a guest




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