"The Masque of the Red Death" Symbols, Themes, and Motifs

This Storyboard That activity is part of the lesson plans for The Masque of the Red Death


The Masque of the Red Death Symbolism

Example



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Activity Overview


Themes, symbols, and motifs come alive when you use a storyboard. In this activity, students will identify themes and symbols from the story, and support their choices with details from the text. With a storyboard, students can track the rich symbolism Poe uses throughout “The Masque of the Red Death”.

Symbols

The Clock

The clock is a representative of death’s inevitability. All the revelry stops at each hourly strike of the clock. This is a constant reminder that our lives and our time alive is constantly winding down. Each ghostly chime is death's own countdown. It is also a reminder that man cannot stop or slow down time, it continues and waits for no one. Its last chime ultimately represents death appearance and the end of life. Hence the clock strikes at midnight and the stranger appears, with midnight being the symbolizing the end of life.


The Stranger

The stranger dressed as a plague victim is Death himself. The personification of death lends to the theme that in death there is true equality; both the poor and rich alike will eventually succumb to death's grasp.


The Rooms in “The Masque of the Red Death”


The Rooms

The rooms represent the stages of life. The rooms begin at the east and progress west, as a metaphor for the path of the sun. This connects the cycle of the day with the cycle of a life: the morning is birth while night is the end of life and eventually, death. Each individual room and its color has a symbolic meaning which also relates to the life cycle.

The order of the life cycle also represents the path that Prospero takes to subdue his uninvited guest. As the Red Death walks through each room, so does Prospero. In the end, Prospero dies in the black room.

COLORMEANING
BlueBirth/Morning/Dawn
PurpleVitality/Childhood
GreenYouth/Spring/Growth
OrangeStrength/Summer/Autumn/Noon
WhiteAge/Wisdom/Growing Older/Winter
VioletDusk/Dimming of Life/Extinguish
Black Death
Red WindowsRed is associated with blood; the vitality of life, and the color of the Red Death


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Student Instructions

Create a storyboard that identifies recurring themes in "The Masque of the Red Death". Illustrate instances of each theme and write a short description below each cell.


  1. Click "Start Assignment".
  2. Identify the theme(s) from "The Masque of the Red Death" you wish to include.
  3. Create an image for an example that represents this theme.
  4. Write a description of each of the examples.
  5. Save and submit the assignment.

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