Edgar Allen Poe is known for his dark and macabre stories. Much of the darkness comes from the tragedy of his own life. His parents both died while he was young and he was placed with a foster family. He was estranged from his foster father and married his cousin, who was 13. Poe has become one of the most well known authors and poets of the 19th century. Often Poe would express his dislike for allegory but it can be found in almost all of Poe’s works. The Masque of the Red Death is no exception. This story more than any other of Poe’s works is filled with allegory and symbolism.
The main allegory of The Masque of Red Death revolves around the idea that humanity cannot escape death. Poe uses the symbol of the Red Death and the mummer –“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” - to represent death. Prospero and the nobles fool themselves when they lock themselves in the castellated abbey. No matter how rich or well protected you are death always comes. I think that Poe may have also used the plague as an allegory to show men’s fear of their own mortality. In the end Prospero’s wealth could not protect him from the inevitable and Poe allowed him to be punished for his belief by the one thing he feared the most.
Poe uses the rooms lined up from east to west to show the progression of life through its different stages; blue standing for the beginning of life and black for the end of life. The inability for anyone to enter the black room, “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,” shows the revelers fear of death. The tolling of the black clock, found in the black room, is used to show that time is passing. The revelers become nervous and unsure every time... [continues]
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