Tell Tale Heart and The Red Death

Topics: Edgar Allan Poe, The Tell-Tale Heart, The Masque of the Red Death Pages: 7 (1923 words) Published: May 1, 2014
Edgar Allan Poe was an American author in the American Romantic Movement. Poe is most famous for his grim short stories of mystery, which led him to be considered to be the inventor of detective-fiction genres. As a child, Poe has what some may call a sad life. Poe was the middle of three children. When Poe was young, his father abandoned the family and shortly after Poe’s mother died. He was then orphaned and taken in, but never officially adopted, by a family in Richmond, VA. As a child Poe had always had dreams of becoming a writer and had, in fact, by the young age of thirteen completed enough poetry to publish a book. His ‘headmaster’ advised against this, therefore Poe did not. Poe’s publishing career then began at the ripe age of eighteen with an anonymous collection of poems that were credited not to his name, but to ‘a Bostonian’. He then worked for literary journals for several years and published his first well-known poem, ‘The Raven’, in January of 1845. This gave Poe enough popularity to begin to demand higher pay for his work and bring in large crowds to his lectures. Later this year he published two successful books and made an attempt to run his own magazine, which failed. After this, he moved away to a cottage with his wife who was then soon deceased. After months of grieving, Poe traveled giving lectures for another two years before he spent his last days in a hospital. Such background gives some explanation into why Poe’s writing is as grim as it is. A lot of Poe’s writings have similar themes in common: death, or the questions of it. Many of his works are considered dark and gloomy and this tends to define his style of writing. Poe’s style of writing is widely recognized and unmistakable as Edgar Allan Poe. Also, a popular theme of different versions of reality comes into play in a lot of his works as he takes us to identify versions of reality in ways that we can’t always admit to. Poe uses symbolism and imagery to represent these themes in his stories. The two Edgar Allan Poe works I’m focusing on today, both written in the early 1840s, are “The Masque of Red Death” and “The Tell Tale Heart”. In ‘The Masque of the Red Death’ has the theme of death and mortality all over the story. The story tells a tale of a terrible disease called Red Death that has stricken the country. While many people are dying from this disease, the prince remains healthy and intact and un-phased by this disease whereas none of the upper-class people are dying. He shuts his doors to the kingdom and has only his favorite high-class knights and ladies up in his castle. Months into his stay, he decides to have a masquerade ball and creates a wild and crazy set up for it. The ball has seven rooms each in a different color. There is a black room with blood red windows and dark brick walls, resembling death. At some point, the party-goers notice a guest they’ve never seen before dressed as a corpse who died called the Red Death. As the party goes on Red Death creeps everybody out and eventually kills the guests one by one, and eventually the prince, showing the point of the story that nobody can escape death. From the opening line of the story to images and symbols throughout the story, death cannot be escaped. In the first sentence of the story, Poe says “The ‘Red Death’ had long devastated the country. No pestilence has ever been so fatal, or so hideous.” He also later says, “…Now he was acknowledged the presence of the Red Death. He had come like a thief in the night...”. Poe references death both directly and indirectly in this story. There are times when he explains how the characters cannot escape death like “…turned suddenly and confronted his pursuer…” in which he creates an image in your head of somebody being confronted with death and not having a way out. A lot of the characters try to escape or ignore the inevitability of their death but fail miserably when Death literally crashes their party. Also, the rooms are...
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