The Masque Of the Red Death

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Hi. I've been reading Poe's short stories and I canít understand THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH. I usually understand his work well but I was wondering if anybody could help me out with analyzing this short stories? It would be great help. Thanks!

A response as soon as possible!

-- Anonymous, December 11, 2003

Answers

It is an atypical story in some ways. No narrator with meaningful musings to guide and focus the story, actual supernatural and weird elements Poe usually obscured or avoided altogether, some allegory and a fantasy setting. Some people would say it makes the story actually easier to get.

Poe is trying to remove you to a remote, dreamlike faraway plot world where a common theme is nearly allegorized. Namely that death (The Conqueror Worm, A Dream within a Dream)and time take away all and that the best efforts of power, will or art(Prospero)cannot stop it forever.

Prospero the tyrant seekes to save his friends in a perpetual party symbolizing the world while the real world outside is ravaged by plague. See "King Pest" for a different kind of plague allegory done humorously. Unlike Shaepeare's "Tempest" this Prospero has no magic or redeeming points. Noble authority is rarely found in Poe's Amemrican democracy, anti-authoritarian sentiments. So there is little sympathy wasted on the remotely narrated protagonist and destruction can be the untinted focus of the tale.

The hiding under the masks becomes a grim black joke turned on Propsero by the Red Death, personified as part of Prospero's new world. The symbols thus become easily transformed into victory for Death and even the clock dies symbolically. A Masque is a celebration, more than just a facial cover. This ritual dance thus becomes the dance of death, and the architecture of the castle a mausoleum symbolically for the world.

-- Anonymous, December 12, 2003


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