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. " (145). 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. • slide 3 of 4 Imagery in the 7th Room
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" (146). 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 extreme" (146-7) 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. • slide 4 of 4 More Examples 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" (147). 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. " (149). 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. Symbolism in "The Masque of the Red Death" Why are there seven rooms in "The Masque of the Red Death"? Learn all that and more with this guide to symbolism. latest • slide 1 of 6 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 - an allegory is a story in which the objects, characters, and events are symbolic of something grander in scale.
In order to understand the story allegorically, one needs a firm understanding of symbols in "The Masque of the Red Death. " • slide 2 of 6 Symbols ; Analysis 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 Castle represents man's efforts to prevent death. Regardless of wealth, social position, or popularity, death arrives as an uninvited guest. 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.
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 Seven Rooms represent the stages of life. More on this later. The Masqueraders symbolize all humans and gives creedence to the interpretation that the seven rooms represent the seven ages of man (covered further in the next section). • slide 3 of 6 Color Symbolism Colors play an important role in this story:
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" (146).
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" (147). Blue/Purple/Green/Orange/White/Violet - These are the colors of the first six rooms in the imperial suite. I will address them together insomuch that they represent a prism and therefore reflect a progression, lending creedence 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 do 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. • Others interpret the 7 rooms in "The Masque of the Red Death" as a symbol of Prospero's indulgence in the seven deadly sins: 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 - It is unclear who the Prince might envy, but he sure is trying hard to impress someone. 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 pleasure. " 4. Lust - Lust is an excessive craving for the pleasures of the body, usually associated with sex. The era in which Poe wrote prohibited he explicit or implicit description of sex, but what do you think was going on at an anything goes party? 5. Anger - The Prince becomes angry with the uninvited guest and attacks it. 6. Greed - 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 - 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. • slide 6 of 6 What do you think they mean? If you have an alternate interpretation, let me know in the comments.