The Masque of the Red Death Analysis
“The Masque of the Red Death” Analysis Mankind has this natural fear of death and many attempts to escape from it. However the fact remains that although humanity can try to prolong life as much as they can, death will soon come. Everything has its time and everything dies. In “The Masque of the Red Death” Edgar Allen Poe conveys the allegorical idea of the inevitability of death and humanity fear of it through the use of symbolism. Poe portrays the idea of death’s inevitability through the symbolism of Prince Prospero, the Red Death, and the conflict between them.
In the story, Poe ppropriately names the prince “Prospero’ which means “prosperous”. The prince demonstrates this prosperous symbolism through good health of his “robust” figure (Poe 12) and the luxurious suite in which he entertains his followers (2). This establishes Prince Prospero as a symbol of prosperity. However Poe also portrays the prince as a symbol of humanitys cowardliness of death. While the Red Death claims the lives of his subjects, Prince Prospero tries to escape from him by isolating himself and his followers in an abbey.
Not only does he try to avoid the inevitable, he aintains the illusion of prosperity by lavishing himself and his followers with entertainment such as fools, dancers, and music (2). In the case of the Red Death, he is the personification of the disease running rampant in the kingdom thus making him a symbol of the death that Prince Prospero and the masqueraders try to escape from. The struggle between Prince Prospero and the Red Death becomes an allegory during the prince’s confrontation of the Red Death (14).
Keeping in mind of the symbolism of the two characters, the message is that death cannot be conquered. Everything must come to an end so death will always win. This reigns true when Prince Prospero dies at the hand of the Red Death (14). The struggle between the Red Death and Prince Prospero serves as a symbol of the inevitability of death and humanitys fear of it. The colors of the room serve to symbolize the course of life and its end. When Prince Prospero confronts the Red Death he Journeys through seven apartments.
The direction that the prince travels in goes from east to west which is the direction of how the sun rises and falls (4). Prince Prospero also enters the apartments in this order: blue, purple, green, orange, white, violet, and black (13). Each color has its own universal meaning and suggests a stage in the circle of life. The first room in which Prince Prospero enters is blue. Blue is often associated with health and stability so this could suggest the birth of life while the purple apartment indicates the beginnings of life (Parker).
Keeping in mind that the color red represents intensity, purple suggests the stability that comes after birth and the arrival of the intensity of life (Parker). The next room, the green apartment, suggests youth. Green is associated with the season spring where everything in nature begins to bloom (Parker). With the orange room, its color symbolizes summer and autumn (Parker). The vibrancy of the while simultaneously emulating the change in the leaves’ colors during autumn. So overall the orange room represents the energy and gradual loss of that energy found in adulthood.
Following to the seasonal pattern Poe makes, the white room most likely represents the winter season where everything begins slows down and age. It could also symbolize the white hair that the elderly has. The violet room, a shade darker than purple, suggests sense of gloom and sadness. This serves as a sign of the remonition of death at this point in life (Parker). The final room which is the black apartment obviously symbolizes the end of life – death. Black is often associated with feelings of grief and even worn at funerals to express those emotions (Parker).
So when Prince Prospero Journeys through all these apartments to confront the Red Death, he figuratively walks through all the stages in life and arrives to the black room where the Red Death kills him. Because of the symbolic meaning of the apartments, Prince Prospero portrays all people’s course through life and its inevitable end with death. Although Prince Prospero and the masqueraders believe they are away from the clutches of the Red Death, the ebony clock serves as a looming reminder of death that will surely come to claim them.
As previously stated, the black apartment in which the clock is in represents death (Poe 5). Because of its symbolic meaning the guests avoid entering the room and instead focus on the pleasantries around them. As followers of Prince Prospero, they too have no desire to die and prefer to bask in the prosperity of life. … there came from the brazen lungs of the clock a sound hich was clear and loud and deep and exceedingly musical … at each lapse of an hour, the musicians of the orchestra were constrained to pause, momentarily, in their performance … he waltzers ceased their evolutions; and there was a brief disconcert of the whole gay company … (5) However, the clock makes it impossible for the guests to ignore the black apartment as its chiming draws their attention back to it. The momentary cease with the masquerade creates a discomforting and fearful atmosphere. At this moment the people become aware of the ominous black room or in other words of their impending deaths. So with that being said the clocks presence symbolizes death’s approach and each chime at the hourly intervals demonstrates life passing by.
As life goes by, death comes closer. Because of the nature of the ebony clock it symbolizes death’s approach on the masqueraders. Due to Poe’s ingenious use of symbolism in the story, he creates the allegorical message of the inevitability of death and humanitys futile attempts to escape it. While it is natural to have a fear of death, people like Prince Prospero and his followers must come to accept that it will happen. They spend so much time hiding way from the rest of the world so they wouldn’t die.