The Masque of the Red Death : LUSENET : The Work of Edgar Allan Poe : One Thread

In the story of The Masque of the Red Death, I have to draw what the appartment looked like. If you can give me an idea what it should look like I would very much thank you. Tom!

-- Anonymous, June 07, 2000



An engaging question and interesting one to think about from the perspective of imagery. I only wish I had Poes talents for verbal illustration and imagination. Nevertheless, Ill give it a try. However, you only mention one apartment and, unfortunately, I would have no idea which apartment you intend. So the following is a general interpretation of the string of seven.

As indicated in the story, the string of lavishly decorated chambers were located in the abbey of Prince Prospero. The abbey itself, had been closed or walled off from the rest of the realm and its condemned multitude. Large iron gates had been welded closed to isolate and protect the Prince and his one thousand, hand picked subjects from the contagion sweeping the whole of his sovereign dominion.

In number, there were seven and each one arranged as an entrance to the westward chamber and as an exit from the eastward. That is to say, that the overall arrangement of the string of apartments was constructed from East to West. Poe does make the point that they were arranged in a manner so that from any particular room, very little could be seen of the other rooms. He indicates that a sharp turn is required to enter or exit the adjoining chamber and this prevented the visual effect of one room from imposing itself upon the next. Poe also makes the point that the seven chambers were unlike similar construction in other abbeys where one could stand in the first apartment and, lacking any obstruction, see directly into the seventh.

The visual impact was given in the decorations, coloring and illumination of each apartment. Richly decorated, carpeted and embellished with heavy curtains upon the walls, each room contained two, tall, gothic windows, one in the center of left wall and one in the center of the right wall. The window panes were specifically colored according to the prevailing hue of the room occupied so that external illumination enhanced the effect. Each room and all its embellishments shared a singular color beginning in the easternmost room with a brilliant blue. In the next apartment all was purple and the third was done in green. The fourth was filled with orange and the fifth consumed in white and the sixth in violet. Each of the preceding six with window panes matching the color of the room with the single exception of the seventh and westernmost chamber. Here the room was covered in black with black carpets, black drapery and,  black velvet tapestries hung all over the ceilings and down the walls... In this western apartment alone, the window panes differed in color from the hue of the room and were scarlet or blood-red so that the light from the braziers in the corridor,  streamed upon the dark hangings through the blood-tinted panes, was ghastly in the extreme, 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. One final piece of decoration was the gigantic ebony clock that stood upon the westernmost wall of the black chamber.

It is important to note that there were no instruments of illumination held within any of the seven chambers. No fires, no candles, and especially, no direct or reflected sunlight from outside. Lighting was accomplished by large braziers of fire opposite each tall window. These large braziers, set on tripods, were located in a hallway or corridor that ran parallel to and on either side of the string of apartments. We know that the apartments ran East to West so, in effect, the braziers were located outside the North and South windows of each chamber in the corridor. There was no means of access to or from the corridor relative to any of the apartments.

Poe gives no specific proportions for the rooms but the reader (at least this one) is left with the perception that in terms of dimensions only, each room is identical to the others. He does mention twenty or thirty yards as the length of each apartment so, for practical purposes, lets split the difference and call it twenty- five yards in length or 75 feet. As for breadth, Poe gives no dimensions so you must choose a practical width keeping in mind the number of revelers, the proper lighting and each rooms furnishings. Also, for each portal available for access to the rooms adjoining chamber, take care to provide sufficient space for the sharp turn. Personally, I do not believe this turn need be any greater than 50 to 60 degrees because I do not believe Poe meant for it to be a full right or left turn, only a acute angled turn so that vision into the adjoining room would be impeded.

Well Tom thats about the best I can do hope it helps.


-- Anonymous, June 08, 2000

dammit , i wish i saw this before now. Too bad the guy quoted right from the book what it looked like- that doesnt help. But heres what it looked like- 7 different suites and each one was a certain color and everything in the suite was that color. Except the 7th western suite- that one was black with red scarlet color window panes. It was scary. and this room had the clock of ebony.

-- Anonymous, November 01, 2001

The seven different rooms could symbolize three different things.

A.) The Seven Deadly Sins (from the Bible) B.) Different moods C.) Different stages in life, black being death.

Thanks, Lucymay

-- Anonymous, September 17, 2002

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