Poe, “The Masque of the Red Death”

Aside from the scary resemblance to the ebola outbreak, in “The Masque of the Red Death” Poe uses the Red Death as way to show that no one can escape death. What I noticed was that Poe makes a point to describe the rooms in which the masked ball was being held. The very first room along the “long and straight vista,” begins at the east and is decorated in blue. “That at the eastern extremity was hung, for example in blue – and vividly blue were its windows,” (pg. 2). The very last room lays in the west; the black chamber with its single window the deep color of blood. “The seventh apartment was closely shrouded in black velvet tapestries that hung all over the ceiling and down the walls, falling heavy folds upon a carpet of the same material and hue…,” “…the western or black chamber…” (p. 2) What I noticed here is the reference between the east and the west. Since the sun rises in the east and sets in the west perhaps Poe’s reference signifies the beginning of life to of the end of it.  When the masked figure of the Red Death appears the Prince is enraged and shouts out to the person. Poe tells us that when he does so he is standing in the eastern room or the blue room. Since no one would seize the man out of fear he was able to move down the hallway through all of the rooms to the last room. The Prince’s rage caused him to rush “…hurriedly through all six chambers,” (p. 3). It was in the western room, the black room that the Prince died from the “Red Death.” This scene is another reference to the significance of the east to the west. Passing through the different stages of life till he met his death in the very last room in the western corridor; the black room. When all of the other party-goers met their death it had been in the dark room. “Then, summoning the wild courage of despair, a throng of the revelers at once threw themselves in to the black apartment… and one by one the revelers in the blood-bedewed halls of their revel, and died each in the despairing posture of his fall,” (p. 4).

It is clear that the last room is meant to symbolize death since it is decorated in black and the window is stained in a deep blood red. Who would really have a ball room this color? Pretty much no one, but I think it’s incorporated to show that once you meet the “last room” in your life death is inevitable. The clock symbolizes this too. Since the clock is placed in the last room it only stops working once you have reached this room in your life. “And the life of the ebony clock went out with that of the last of the gay.”


via Poe, “The Masque of the Red Death”.

2 thoughts on “Poe, “The Masque of the Red Death””

  1. So would you say since everyone stopped every time the clock rang that the clock was more of a time glass than a clock?

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