Masque_of_the_Red_Death_Final - “Masque of the Red Death”

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					“Masque of the Red Death”
     Edgar Allan Poe
• Language that appeals to one or more of
  the five senses.
 Imagery in "The Masque of the
          Red Death."
• Example of Imagery - "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 sympathy of his fellow men."
 Imagery in "The Masque of the
          Red Death."
• Senses - Sight, Touch
• Analysis - Poe establishes the mood and
  setting of the story with the vivid
  description of the Red Death. The
  passage establishes the horror of the
  disease and explains why the guests
  would react to the blood stained intruder
  at the end of the story.
       Example of Imagery
• - "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 the
  carpet of the same material and hue"
• Senses - Sight, Touch
• Analysis: The oppressiveness of the 7th
  room contrasts the gaiety of the previous
  six. The darkness of the room and the
  heaviness and darkness of the curtain
  symbolizes death. No wonder none of the
  guests wish to come near it. Note the pun
  on "shroud."
• Example of Imagery - "The panes here were
  scarlet--a deep color....In the corridors that
  followed the suite, there stood, opposite to each
  window, a heavy tripod, bearing a brazier of fire,
  that projected its rays through the tinted glass
  and so glaringly illuminated the room. And thus
  were produced a multitude of gaudy and
  fantastic appearances...The effect of the firelight
  that streamed upon the dark hangings through
  the blood tinted panes was ghastly in the
• Senses - Sight
• Analysis - So much for peaceful death. The
  images created by the brazier of fire and
  blood tinted glass give the room of death a
  ghastly appearance. The gaudy and
  fantastic appearances, the blood tinted
  panes, and the fire create an image of hell,
  hinting that perhaps the guests and the
  Prince fear not just the Red Death, but their
  eternal fate.
       Example of Imagery
• - "Its pendulum swung to and fro with a
  heavy monotonous clang; there came from
  the brazen lungs of the clock a sound
  which was clear and loud and deep and
  exceedingly musical"
• Senses - Sound
• Analysis - No wonder the musicians
  stopped when this clock struck. Poe uses
  personification--brazen lungs--to
  emphasize the deepness of the "heavy
  monotonous clang," a clang that serves as
  an hourly reminder to the guests that
  death is approaching.
       Example of Imagery
• - "The figure was tall and gaunt, and
  shrouded from head to foot in the
  habilments of the grave...His vesture was
  dabed in blood and his broad brow, with all
  the features of the face was besprinkled
  with the scarlet horror."
• Senses - Sight
• Death - The personified Red Death strikes
  fear and anger in the hearts of Prospero
  and his guests. Once the Red Death
  appears, it never leaves.
• An allegory is a story in which the objects,
  characters, and events are symbolic of
  something grander in scale.
• Edgar Allan Poe's "The Masque of the
  Red Death" should be studied at many
  levels: (1) the literal level - the literal level
  is a study of the events that actually take
  place in the story; (2) an allegorical level -.
• The seven rooms, therefore, represent the
  life of all humans.

• (1) the first room lies furthest East, or
  where the sun rises;
• (2) the last room lies furthest West, or
  where the sun sets;
• (3) the rooms are arranged in such a
  manner "that vision embraced but little
  more than one at a time" in the same way
  life only provides short glimpse into the
• Setting: The action takes place in the newly constructed
  "castellated abbey" of Prince Prospero. The castle has
  been boarded up, leaving "means of neither ingress nor
  egress" in an effort to keep out the Red Death, a plague
  that has killed half of the population in Prince Prospero's
• The majority of the story's action takes place in the
  Imperial suite, which contains seven rooms, each
  exclusively decorated and lighted with a specific color,
  the exception being the last room whose black interior is
  complemented by red windows..
• Although the narrator never gives a
  specific time, the events occur most likely
  during the middle ages as indicated by the
  existence of castles, a sharp division
  between nobles and peasants, and the
  existence of a deadly plague
• Analysis: The boarded up castle is the Prince's
  attempt to keep out the Red Death. The seven
  rooms symbolize the seven ages of man, an
  allusion to a monologue in Shakespeare's As
  You Like It.
• Several plagues decimated the population of
  Europe during the Middle Ages, the most well
  known, the Black Death, occurring in the latter
  half of the 14th-century, killed approximately
  40% of Europe's population .

• Only two "Masque of the Red Death"
  characters are named: Prospero and the
  Red Death
• Prince Prospero:The prosperous Prince
  invites citizens "from among the knights
  and dames of his court" to reside with him
  in his odd fortressed castle. His intent is to
  prevent the Red Death from affecting him
  or his guests. He falsely believes that he
  and his guests can prevent death. The
  Prince's name is symbolic. He is wealthy.
  He is noble. He is respected. He still dies.
• The Red Death: Prince Prospero throws a
  costume party at which a figure "tall and
  gaunt, and shrouded from head to foot in
  the habilements of the grave" strolls
  through the castle. "His vesture was
  dabbed in blood and his broad brow, with
  all the face, was besprinkled with the
  scarlet horror." The Red Death has arrived.
  Many interpret the story as an allegory of
  life, the end result being death to all.
• Prospero's Guests: None of Prospero's
  guests are named. We do know, however,
  that they are of noble blood and that
  peasants and commoners are locked out,
  leading many to surmise that "The Masque
  of the Red Death" is an allegory for the
  death of feudalism, an economic system in
  which peasants worked the land and
  nobles made the money.
• Symbols are people, places, events, or
  things that stand for ideas larger than
           The Seven Rooms
•   Blue- East, windows the same color
•   Purple- windows the same color
•   Green- windows the same color
•   Orange- windows the same color
•   White- windows the same color
•   Violet- windows the same color
•   Black- West, blood-red windows
     Color and its symbolism
• Red - The most obvious color symbolism
  in "The Masque of the Red Death" is in its
  title. Red symbolizes death and blood. The
  gruesome description of the Red Death
  gives the color a ghastly connotation,
  especially in light of the red window panes
  contained in the death room at the far
  western end of the imperial suite.
• Black/Ebony - The seventh room 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".
• This seventh room contains "no light of any
  kind" and represents the darkness of death. In
  this room stands the ebony clock. Upon hearing
  its chimes the guests were reminded of death:
  "the giddiest grew pale, and the more aged and
  sedate passed their hands over their brows as if
  in confused reverie or meditation"
• Blue/Purple/Green/Orange/White/Violet - These
  are the colors of the first six rooms in the imperial
  suite. They represent a prism and therefore reflect a
  progression, lending credence to the interpretation
  that the story is an allegory for life. This
  interpretation, however, is complicated by the fact
  that the color of Prospero's room does not occur in
  the same sequence as they do in a prism, possibly
  reflective of Prospero's twisted sense of fairness or
  an attempt by the author to associate particular
  colors with a specific period in life
  Symbolisms: Black and Red
• The black and blood red room seems to
  represent death
            Seven Rooms
• Others interpret the 7 rooms in "The
  Masque of the Red Death" as a symbol of
  Prospero's indulgence in the seven deadly
             1. Pride/Vanity
• 1. Pride/Vanity - Pride is the excessive
  belief in one's own abilities, similar to
  vanity, which is setting one's heart on
  things of little value. Prospero's belief that
  he is more powerful than death is a vivid
  demonstration of pride
                  2. Envy
• 2. Envy – It is the desire for others’ traits,
  status, abilities, goods or situation. It is
  unclear who the Prince might envy, but he
  sure is trying hard to impress someone.
              3. Gluttony
• 3. Gluttony - Gluttony is the act of
  consuming more than one is required.
  Instead of using his means to protect more
  people, something he is obligated to do as
  prince, he lavishes his guests with "ample
  provisions" and "the appliances of
                 4. Lust
• 4. Lust - Lust is an excessive craving for
  the pleasures of the body, usually
  associated with sex. The era in which Poe
  wrote prohibited the explicit or implicit
  description of sex, but what do you think
  was going on at an anything goes party?
               5. Anger
• 5. Anger – The person rejects love and
  opts for fury. The Prince becomes angry
  with the uninvited guest and attacks it.
               6. Greed
• 6. Greed - Greed is the desire for
  material wealth. Although it is apparent
  Prince Prospero shares his wealth with a
  thousand guests, he helps those who
  need it least and withholds his substance
  from those in need.
                7. Sloth
• 7. Sloth - Sloth is the absence of work.
  The prince seems like a hard worker; his
  work, however, is on the physical realm
  not the spiritual realm.
                The Seven Rooms
• Supposedly, the suite is an allegory of human life. Each
  room, in other words, corresponds to a different "stage" of
  human life, which its color suggests. The first clue that the
  suite is allegorical is that the rooms are arranged from east
  to west. East is usually the direction associated with
  "beginnings," and birth, because the sun rises in the east;
  west (the direction of the sunset) is associated with endings,
  and death
• A day can represent a person’s life…
   – Sunrise is birth
   – Sunset(or night) is death
              Blue Room
• The blue room, which is furthest to the
  east, represents birth. The color suggests
  the "unknown" from which a human being
  comes into the world.
• The first room would represent infancy,
  and fittingly Poe locates it in the
  easternmost part of the imperial suite.
  (The east is a primordial archetype
  associated with the rising sun and birth.)
             Purple Room
• The next room is purple, a combination of
  blue (birth) and red (associated with life,
  intensity) suggests the beginnings of
    Green and Orange Room
• Green, the next color, suggests the
  "spring" of life (youth), orange the summer
  and autumn of life.
             White Room
• White, the next color, suggests age – think
  white hair, and bones.
              Violet Room
• Violet (a combination of purple and blue,
  or purple and grey) is a shadowy color,
  and represents darkness and death
              Black Room
• And black, obviously, is death
• The last room, the seventh, would
  represent old age and death, and Poe
  locates it in the westernmost part of the
  imperial suite. (The west is a primordial
  archetype associated with the setting sun,
  old age, and death.)
• There's no red room.
• Red would be a better color than orange for
  summer/autumn, or as a better color than purple
  for growth.
• But probably Poe wanted to save the color red in
  this story especially for its association with blood,
  fear, and death. That means it's always goes
  with black, just like the Red Death and the
  darkness go together at the end of the story, and
  red and black go together in the seventh room. If
  there were a red room, it would confuse the color
  system and obscure the meaning of "red."
• The fact that the revelers don't go into the black
  room indicates their fear of death.
• The Red Death walks from the blue room to the
  black room – it walks the course of life, leading
  from birth to death. Prospero follows that course
  when he chases it: he runs from the blue room to
  the black room, where he dies.
• His followers also rush into the black room to
  unmask the Red Death, and also die. So the
  course the characters walk in the story is both
  literally and metaphorically the course from life to
              Number Seven
• Poe's story takes place in seven connected but
  carefully separated rooms. This reminds the
  reader of the past significance of the number
  seven. (The history of the world was thought to
  consist of seven ages, just as an individual's life
  had seven stages. The ancient world had seven
  wonders; universities divided learning into seven
  subjects; there were seven deadly sins with
  seven corresponding cardinal virtues, and the
  number seven is important in mysticism.)
            Number Seven
• This suggests that the seven rooms
  represent the seven stages of one's life,
  from birth to death, through which the
  prince pursues a figure masked as a victim
  of the Red Death, only to die himself in the
  final chamber of eternal night
   Other Symbols & Meanings
1. The Ebony Clock
2. The Masquerade Ball
  1. wearing masks, anonymous… could
     represent everyone
3. Plague(The Red Death)
4. The Uninvited Guest
• Blood, the very substance of life, becomes
  the mark of death as it bursts through the
             East to West
• The seven rooms are laid out from east to
  west, reminding us of the course of the
  sun which measures our earthly time.
          The Ebony Clock:
          What does it mean?
• Time… running out?
  – Mortality – time running out eventually ending
    in death
                  The Clock
• The big, black, creep clock is located in the
  black room, so it's not that hard to guess that it's
  meant to be a symbol of death. More precisely,
  it's a symbol of the passing of "the Time that
  flies", and the inevitability of death. Its eerie
  chiming on the hour is a regular reminder to the
  revelers that their lives are drifting away with the
  time, and that death is approaching. Of course,
  the effect is enhanced even more by that way
  the clock has of stopping all the dancing and
  music – in short, all the life – of the party, and
  making everyone laugh nervously.
          The Ebony Clock
• The Ebony Clock is a constant reminder
  of death and symbolizes the inevitability of
  it. The revelers could neither stop its
  pendulum from swinging nor could they
  prevent its ominous tones from dampering
  their enthusiasm.
            The Ebony Clock
• The clock symbolizes life and mortality,
  reminding the people of the time that has
  passed and the time that will come to
    The "Castellated Abbey"

• The abbey is a place of confinement. It's
  cut off and secluded (hidden away where
  no one can find it). Beyond that, its doors
  are welded shut from the inside. Which
  means everyone's trapped: no one can get
  in or out. The sense of confinement (a
  staple of Gothic lit) is crucial to giving the
  story its "threatening" atmosphere
    The "Castellated Abbey"
• The Castle represents man's efforts to
  prevent death. Regardless of wealth,
  social position, or popularity, death arrives
  as an uninvited guest.
        The Masqueraders
• The Masqueraders symbolize all humans
  and gives credence to the interpretation
  that the seven rooms represent the seven
  ages of man
           The Red Death
• Poe’s fictional red death resembles a real
  disease that occurred in Medieval and
  Renaissance: known as the Black Death
  because of the livid hue of corpses caused
  by subcutaneous hemorrhaging. Black, of
  course, is the color of the seventh room in
  “The Masque of the Red Death.”
           The Red Death
• The Red Death symbolizes the inevitability
  of death. Although there is no specific
  disease with the exact symptoms described
  in the story, critics believe the disease's
  description has elements of tuberculosis, a
  disease which killed many of those close to
  Poe. It also brings forth memories of the
  Black Death which depopulated much of
  Europe during the Middle Ages.
                 The Red Death
• The Red Death is death. It's a spectacularly gruesome
  form of death, probably calculated by Poe for maximum
  freak-out appeal. Think of it: having contortions and
  bleeding from all of your pores (particularly your face) until
  you die. Though as an image, there's something strangely
  stylish about it. After all, it's not as if the victims are
  drenched in blood. Judging from the Red Death's
  appearance, it's more delicate than that: the victims are
  sprinkled all over with it, almost "decorated" by it. It's
  grotesque (gross) and aesthetic (almost beautiful) at the
  same time – like the story itself.
• But as far as symbolizing something goes,
  the Red Death is just a slightly revamped
  image of plain old Death. The story shows
  how it can't be escaped, and how Prospero's
  attempt to escape it, is doomed.
• Poe probably chose the red death because
  red's a brighter and more dramatic color
  than black, and tends to increase black's
  own "freak out" effect when the two are put
  together (as in the red and black room).
  The story is bright and dramatic – with its
  colored rooms and its wild, whirling,
  costumed revelers. The effect of the
  imagery is almost dizzying. The red-black
  combo is really loud – it screams at you –
  so it fits well into that crazy aesthetic, which
  Poe might be using for a couple of different
• It seems Poe based the Red Death on accounts
  of the Bubonic plague, also known as the "black
• Just like Poe's Red Death, it devastated the
  countryside of Medieval Europe beginning in the
  14th century, and occasionally caused people to
  shut themselves up for protection from the
• But the symptoms of the diseases bear little
  relation to each other, besides the fact that
  they're both fatal.
• For all we know, the Red Death is entirely
  fictional, conjured up by Poe, as we said, just for
  spine-tingling effect.
              Masked ball
• Prince Prospero's masked ball or dance
  reminds us of the "dance of death"
  portrayed in old paintings as a skeleton
  leading a throng of people to the grave,
  just as the prince leads his guests to the
  Red Death.
• Of course, in Poe’s story, masque not only
  refers to Prospero’s ball but also to the
  disguise (mask) of the Red Death.
• It refers to an entertainment staged by
  Death, for it was he who drove Prospero
  and his friends into the abbey–a grand
  stage where, he knew, they would seek to
  put him out of mind with a divertissement.
  In short, Death had a ball.
     The Masquerade/Dream
• "The Masque of the Red Death" feels as if it's
  one weird, scary dream, especially during the
  masquerade ball itself.
• Everything's just a little too wild, a little too
  intense, a little too frenzied, and a little too
  "grotesque" to be real. There are the blaring,
  over-the-top colors of the suite and the off-kilter
  alignment of the rooms. There are also the
  masqueraders themselves, dressed up in all
  kinds of bizarre costumes, forming a truly mad
  collage of images. Poe explicitly uses dream
  language when he describes them :
• 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.
• All of this seems too fantastic to be real.
  It's like the product of a twisted
  imagination, or a very strange dream.
  Poe's description of the "writhing" dancers
  (a word he uses several times), or of the
  "swelling" music (7), or the "giddiness" (5)
  suggests a frenzied, dizzying scene. It's
  chaotic, uncontrolled, and all mixed-up. It's
  like the whole world is whirling around, as
  tends to happen in a bad dream.
In this world, everything – the rooms' colors, the
   clock, the ball itself – seems to mean something.
   This descriptive language is hypermeaningful
   (overly meaningful), or "oppressively
   meaningful" . Real life isn't: it's filled with lots of
   things that, thankfully, don't mean anything. That
   kind of hypermeaningfulness is much more like
   something you'd find in a dream…or in the mind
   of a madman (who thinks everything has to have
   some meaning, often a threatening one).
• At masquerades Poe’s characters abandon
  social conventions and leave themselves
  vulnerable to crime
• The masquerade carries the traditional
  meanings of joy and social liberation.
  Reality is suspended, and people can
  temporarily assume another identity.
• The masquerade is enchanting because
  guests wear a variety of exotic and
  grotesque costumes
• In “The Masque of the Red Death,” the ultimate
  victory of the plague over the selfish retreat of
  Prince Prospero and his guests occurs during
  the palace’s lavish masquerade ball. The
  mysterious guest’s gruesome costume, which
  shows the bloody effects of the Red Death,
  mocks the larger horror of Prospero’s party in
  the midst of his suffering peasants. The pretense
  of costume allows the guest to enter the ball,
  and bring the guests their death in person
           Prince Prospero
• The prince's name suggests happiness
  and good fortune, and the prince, just like
  all beings uses happiness to wall out the
  threat of death.
            Prince Prospero
• Prince Prospero symbolizes the end of
  feudalism. Prospero's inviting only wealthy
  knights and ladies to his castle at the expense
  of peasants and commoners represents the
  socioeconomic divide between landowners and
  peasants that existed during the feudalistic
  period. It is not coincidental that the Black
  Death, which reduced the number of workers,
  led to a demand for labor and played an
  important role in ending feudalism in Europe.
       Apocalyptic Symbolism

• The line "like a thief in the night" sounds familiar
  because it's a really famous line from the Bible. It's from
  Paul's First Letter to the Thessalonians 5:4, in which
  Paul is referring to the last judgment. According to him,
  Jesus will come when the world is least expecting it ("like
  a thief in the night"), to judge sinners for all of eternity. If
  you're caught unprepared, you're in trouble. So it's better
  to always be expecting the judgment, and focused not on
  the "pleasures of this world" (which have a tendency to
  be sinful) but on the promise of the next. Otherwise,
  you're a fool
• Poe takes Paul's phrase about Jesus and applies it to
  the Red Death. In doing so, it might look as if he
  makes the Red Death into an "apocalyptic" figure – a
  figure who symbolizes the end of the world. Like the
  "sinners," Prince Prospero and his friends foolishly
  ignore the inevitable end of "life's pleasures" that lies
  at the end of the road, and like them, they pay the
  price for it. The "pleasures of this world" don't fare too
  well in "The Masque of the Red Death." But what's
  different is that, instead of judging sinners like Jesus is
  supposed to, the Red Death just kills everybody. The
  inevitable end Poe envisions in his story isn't one of
  judgment and eternal salvation or suffering. It's
  summed up in that last line: "And Darkness and Decay
  and the Red Death held illimitable dominion over all“.
        The Uninvited Guest
• A representation of death (specifically The
  Red Death) that comes to kill Prince
  Prospero and the rest of the nobles.
• Intruder dressed like the corpse of a victim
  of the red death.
• No one, no matter how rich or powerful,
  can escape the slow march of time…and
  ultimately death. No man or woman can
  escape death.
• Members of a community–especially the
  leaders–have a duty to help those in need
• Prince Prospero had locked himself and
  others inside his castellated abbey, and the
  Red Death brought itself upon the place, and
  the entire group and the Prospero himself, had
  locked themselves inside of the abbey, sealing
  their deaths.
• . What the prince had thought to believe would
  give them hope in life from sealing this plague
  outside of the place, had instead kept him to
  his death, unable to run any further from it
   Masque of the Red Death"
  Irony #1 " (situational irony
• ) - The Prince builds a castle to thwart the Red
  Death. He surrounds the castle with a "lofty wall"
  and with "gates of iron." The guests "brought
  furnaces and massy hammers and welded the
  bolts. They resolved to leave no means of ingress
  nor egress to the sudden despair or of frenzy
  within.". The fortressed castle fails to keep Death
  out and ironically keeps the guests imprisoned
  after the Red Death's arrival.
    "Masque of the Red Death"
    Irony #2 (situational irony)
• - The Prince's purpose is to let his guests forget
  about death, yet the construction of his Imperial
  suite, with its "sharp turns" and "novel effects" do
  little to comfort them. In addition, "the seventh
  apartment was closely shrouded in black velvet
  tapestries that hung all over the ceiling and down the
  wall...The panes here were scarlet--a deep color."
  That seems a strange way to help guests forget
  about death, but not as strange as the ebony clock
  that rings ominously each hour, causing all to cease
  their merry revels.
             Point of View
• At the beginning of the story, Poe unravels
  his yarn in third-person point of view.
  Instead, Poe becomes an observer who is
  like a movie camera that can go anywhere
  and see anything while recording scenes
  for a film. A third-person narrator does not
  use pronouns such as I, me, my, mine,
  we, us, and our except in dialogue that
  quotes a character.
              Point of View
• . To use such words to refer to himself
  would be to place himself within the story.
  However, Poe does exactly that–
  inexplicably injecting himself into the story
  as an unidentified persona by switching
  from third-person to first-person point of
  view and using the pronouns I and me.