The Masque Of The Red Death: Summary And Analysis

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Overview

There is not much complexity to the plot of “The Masque of the Red Death”. The Red Death is a made-up disease that ravages the land in this story. The protagonist of the short story, Prince Prospero, and a group of nobility have taken refuge in an abbey to escape the curse. Nobles believe they are safe within the abbey despite the fact that the plague has very awful symptoms, such as sweating blood and dying within 30 minutes. Because of how at ease they are with their situation, Prospero throws a lavish masquerade ball.

Summary of The Masque of the Red Death

This is the story of a pandemic ‘The Red Death’ that has spread in the lands of Prince Prospero. It is a dangerous pandemic that kills a person once infected within 30 minutes. Though, his people are dying of the fatal illness, the prince invites a thousand of noble men to party in his abbey in a distant location. Once all the guests arrived, he puts the abbey on a strict lockdown. No one can get inside the building. He remains happy and carefree having no concern for the lives of his subjects. He stocks enough food and water in the mansion to feed the guests for years untill the disease wither out.

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After five or 6 months, the price decide to throw a big part. He holds a huge masked ball. Instead of holding it in one big hall, he holds it in seven rooms each coloured differently. The colours are multiple like blue, green, purple, voilet, white, orange and the last room is coloured black.

The last room is slightly different from the other. Though it is coloured black, its windows are blood red. The light when enter into the room from outside create such a gloomy atmosphere that it frightens the people. The guest opt to stay out of this room because of the its darkness. In this room is a big ebony clock. Its pendulum swings in a way that it suggest that something bad is going to happen. Its sound is also so shrill, and loud that it disturbs everyone.

The ball countinue untill the night and it is so wild. The guests enjoy themselves in the other six rooms. the dance, drink and party. When the clock striks twelve of mid night, a ghostly figure dressed in costume appears. It mosquerades Red Death and its costume resembles that of a funeral costume with red stains on it. This figure invokes feelings of surprise and terror in the people. The people are terrified and the prince order his guards to seize the man, remove his costume and hang him.

Prospero is enraged and follow the figure. No one has the courage to grasp him. As he chase him through the six rooms he looks behind to face prospero who has a dagger in his hand. Prospero falls to the ground dead.The guests swarm around the figure and to their surprise, there is no one inside the costume. They fall dead one by one. When the last person died, the clock stopped ticking. The read death has caught all of them.

Analysis of The Masque of the Red Death

All of the literary and cinematic works share a debt to “The Masque of the Red Death,” whose title was first disclosed as “The Mask of the Red Death” in Graham’s Magazine, perhaps because the editor of the periodical thought the word “masque” was too foreign.

The masked ball’s garb is compared in-text to Victor Hugo’s Hernani, a verse drama known for its elaborate clothes. Nonetheless, Poe’s story successfully obliterated the visual of this description, rendering the exotic opulence that all true masked balls aspired to worthless.

Gothic style of the short story

Prose fiction’s Gothic novel, as it was popularly known in England, was the main Romantic response to Classical ideals of art and decorum, which the Romantics rejected. The story also heralded the beginning of a new literary trend in the nineteenth century.

Charles Baudelaire, Poe’s French translator, saw in him a kindred spirit, someone who had given expression in prose to the same gloomy thoughts Baudelaire frequently articulated in poetry. The French poet frequently used “The Masque of the Red Death” as an example of decadent sensibility and style.

Style of the story

There being only one line of dialogue in “The Masque of the Red Death,” the narrative perspective is deliberately removed from the action, and the language is deliberately unnatural. In these ways, it deviates from the general trend within the development of nineteenth-century prose fiction, which was to incorporate novelistic narrative realism into the short story, transforming its leading examples into subtle “slices of life.”

The Masque of the Red Death

Prospero representation in The Masque of the Red Death

Maybe Poe’s work is not a story at all, but a tale, more closely related to and descended from the practise of oral narration than the development of written texts.

The dance’s eerie victory can be attributed to its resemblance to the ghastly solace of mediaeval danse macabre. Usually found on the walls of churches, this artwork serves as a reminder that everyone, rich and poor alike, will one day be led away in an eternal procession by Death, who is typically shown as a hooded skeletal figure.

Mardi Gras, the day before the beginning of the forty-day Lenten fast, which culminates in the Easter celebration of the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ, has long been associated with actual quasi-orgiastic masques. Therefore, the valetudinarian aspects of masques that Poe exaggerates to the fullest in his short story were always present.

Poe is often considered to be the greatest revolutionary author of all time, and “The Masque of the Red Death” is just one of many groundbreaking works he wrote. There is a cruel irony in the fact that Poe was so unloved in his day that he nearly starved to death, giving up a highly misleading reputation as an alcoholic maniac.

Psycho-analysis of the short story

Numerous theoretical psychoanalytic approaches have been applied to “The Masque of the Red Death,” as they have to many of Poe’s other works.

According to Freudian critic Marie Bonaparte, the Red Death represents an absent father coming back to punish an offending offspring for their Oedipal tendencies.

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Richard Wilbur also implies that the Red Death represents the rationalist sickness. By trying to isolate himself from it, Prospero symbolises the escape of poetic imagination from waking reality into sleep.

Multiple detractors have said that this sort of tertiary explanation is unnecessary. What we see on the surface is exactly what we get: a straightforward exploration of the acceptance of mortality.

By the time Poe penned the story, the symbolism of its brightly coloured rooms and ebony-cased watch had been so often echoed and reproduced that it appeared hackneyed. Such gadgetry was run for the course in late-eighteenth-century Gothic literature. But Poe took all that symbolism and boiled it down to its essence, refining it with an unusual economy and a sharpness of focus that together created a masterpiece.


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