Foreshadowing the Inevitable

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But the Prince Prospero was happy and dauntless and sagacious. When his dominions were half depopulated, he summoned to his presence a thousand hale and lighthearted friends from among he knights and dames of his court, and with these retired to the deep seclusion of one of his castellated abbeys....The prince had provided all the appliances of pleasure. There wre buffoons, there were improvisatori, there were ballet dancers, here were musicians, there was Beauty, there was wine. All these and security were within. Without was the "Red Death."

--"Masque of the Red Death," Roberts pg. 357

I think I've read this story about five times over the years, but I'm not complaining. I love Poe, and I enjoy reading this story especially, because it alludes to the Plague, and the fact that when people die, there is no longer the need for divisions of class--Death does not pick us by how much fortune we do or do not have--it picks random, because, in Death, there is true equality. Everyone dies, and Poe effectively proves this in his short story. He demonstrates that even when people try to avoid the inevitable, it finds a way to happen anyway. Prospero attempts to cheat Death by locking himself within his fortress with a number of party guests. This, in theory, is where he went wrong. He let the Red Death in as soon as he allowed his knights and dames from across the land to enter his abby.

Poe foreshadows the inevitable death as soon as he mentions that the Red Death was absent from the pleasures of the fortress. Prospero has created a false sense of security for himself, and his doom awaits as Poe goes about describing the setting of the story. This does more than just give readers a visual. It adds to suspense. Readers know the Red Death is going to appear, but the question of "when?" remains until the foreboding clock begins to chime. The setting of the rooms also provides suspense when Poe describes the seventh room, which lacks the vibrancy of all the others. Readers can see a bad omen coming from this room. The more the clock chimes, the more people get creeped out. The readers know that the clock is counting down to something--death.

I think I appreciate this story a lot more now that I'm reading it in college. When I read it in middle school, and again in high school, I remember just thinking that it was a creepy story. I listened to what my teachers said the symbolism was, but probably really didn't get it. But now that I'm older and actually look for symbolism on my own, I have a new appreciation for all of Poe's works. They're so much more than just a creepy story.

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This page contains a single entry by Jessie published on October 21, 2009 11:56 AM.

Hiding Places was the previous entry in this blog.

And it all comes back to imagery is the next entry in this blog.

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