Mask Of The Red Death

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 12th grade May 2001

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Summary: The Mask of the Red Death The plague had swept the country, but the prince managed to hide from it by secluding himself in the abbey. Months passed by without any trouble from the disease. The prince felt quite sure of his excellent health, so he decided to throw a great masquerade. He invited many friends and elegant people.

The party took place in seven apartments. Each apartment was decorated in a different color. Each apartment was pleasant except for the seventh one. It was decorated in black and had an eerie appeal. In the seventh room stood a clock of magnificence.

Each room was densely crowded with guests except for the seventh one. Every hour the clock from the seventh room would chime and the music of the party would cease so that the chimes could be heard. When the chimes rang twelve, the party noise died down.

Out of the masses of people, the prince saw a new party guest. The man was dressed in a peculiar costume. It was the costume of the red death. The prince was outraged. He cried out for the guards to seize the man. But no one dared to go near the red death.

The prince began to chase the red deathly man. He followed him with a knife through all the apartments. The evil guest finally stopped in the seventh room. The prince pulled the knife at the red death. But the red death got the best of the prince. He could no longer hide from the plague. He knew what was coming. The guest in the mask killed the prince.

The red death had come "like a thief in the night." When the life in the clock wore to an end, every last one of the party guests had been taken in by the plague.

No one can escape death.

Analysis: The Mask of the Red Death "The Mask of the Red Death" is a suspenseful story especially toward the end of this gothic romance. It is almost as if the reader is right in the story chasing after the strange man cloaked in red death. Edgar Allen Poe wrote a variety of great short stories, and this is one of them. I would not change a word of what this magnificent American author wrote.

Poe's story takes place in seven apartments. The number seven is thought to hold importance in mysticism. For example, the history of the world was thought to consist of seven ages; there are seven deadly sins; seven wonders of the world; and so on. The seven apartments in the story represent the stages of the prince's life from birth to death. The seventh room represents death, and that is why the prince never wanted to go into this room. This is also why he died in this room.

The significance of time in this story is represented in the symbol of the "gigantic clock of ebony," which is draped in velvet and placed in the seventh room. Although the clock is an object, it quickly takes on human form when it is described as having a face and lungs.

The seven apartments are laid out from east to west; this is also the course of the sun, which measures earthly time. These rooms are lighted from without. In all of the rooms the color of the windows correspond with the color of the room. It is only in the seventh room that the window is red and the room is black. In creating this room, Poe links red and black with death and time.

The theme to this story is that no one can escape death. Human happiness seeks to wall out the threat of death, as represented by the apartments. The end of this story reminds us that death comes "like a thief in the night," which is also a biblical reference.

Replication: The Mask of the Red Death The prince began to feel as if a ghastly eerie spirit was invading the enchanting occasion. He could not describe in words what he felt. The feeling was so deep that he could sense this strange vibration crawl from his bones up through the tiny hairs that had risen on the back of his neck. The prince felt as though he were about to encounter something he hadn't before. Through the profuse torrential wave of people who had gathered and colonized in the vast apartment rooms, the prince saw a guest of unusual character.

The odd individual was clothed with a putrid, stained, blanket-thick cape. Under the grotesque cape, he wore black leggings that fit his masculine figure so unyielding that they were torn, exposing a glimpse of his muscle-bound legs. He wore a black sweater that came up to his chin. The figure wore a strange covering over his face. This mask was bone-colored and fragile looking. The teeth on the mask were yellow with black in between each tooth. The eyes of this surreal man almost appeared to glow yellow, a bright dimness that blinded a direct stare. Small scarlet bloodstains were smeared all over the entire ensemble.

The smell protruding from the stranger was unimaginable. It was a smell of a thousand bodies, bodies left to decay"”week-old bodies, ones that smelled the most rancid. It was the smell of the red death--the plague. Soon the smell would permeate all of the seven apartments. Blackness engulfed the blissful mood of the party.

By this time every one of the prince's guests were staring directly at the Satan-sent figure. Then their eyes turned to the prince as if to say, "We are doomed." The prince then cried out, "Who dares?"