The Masque of the Red Death

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  • The Masque of the Red Death
  • The "Red Death" was a violent disease that could kill those infected within half an hour. This is allegorical because the disease in the story is symbolic of tuberculosis, a disease Poe encountered many times in his life. In the story, Prince Prospero decided to protect a thousand of the citizens from the disease by keeping them in his castellated abbey. He often held parties to keep their minds off the outside world.
  • As the masquerade continues, the narrator describes the seven chambers. The first chamber farthest to the east is blue, then purple, then green, next orange; the fifth white and the final, seventh apartment is black. This can symbolize the progression of a life from beginning to death, as the rooms are listed from east to west as the sun would move. The final chamber is allegorical to death as it reminds those who enter of the hideous fate that awaits them outside, which is ultimately death.
  • The ebony clock is another symbol, representing the inevitability of death. With each dissonant chime, the party-goers stop to listen, often scared of the sound as they are reminded of the time passed. With each passing hour, the sound of the chimes grows longer. At midnight, a mysterious figure appears from somewhere within the crowd.
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  • This mysterious figure represents the coming of death. It strikes fear into all of the guests, even Prince Prospero. The morbid clothing and mask of this stranger cause it to stand out even a masquerade. His clothes were covered in blood, and he had a face of a bloody corpse. The other masqueraders are disgusted and horrified of this figure because it reminds them of the fate waiting for them outside the abbey.
  • The prince's death is very important. It shows that no one can ultimately defeat or evade death. He tried to avoid the figure, and he also tried to kill it. Despite his efforts to defeat death, he still failed and paid the price for it. Afterwards, the Red Death killed all who had stayed in the abbey, and the ebony clock stopped with the final breath of the last guest.
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