The Masque of the Red Death
by Edgar Allan Poe
The Masque of the Red Death Fear Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Paragraph)
No pestilence had ever been so fatal, or so hideous. Blood was its Avatar and its seal --the redness and the horror of blood. There were sharp pains, and sudden dizziness, and then profuse bleeding at the pores, with dissolution. The scarlet stains upon the body and especially upon the face of the victim, were the pest ban which shut him out from the aid and from the sympathy of his fellow-men. And the whole seizure, progress and termination of the disease, were the incidents of half an hour. (1)
Poe tries to create an atmosphere of fear right at the beginning of the story. This is just about the scariest depiction of death you could imagine in a paragraph – look at his emphatic use of words like "hideous" and "horror." And right away he's also mirroring the fears of the reader in the fears of the people in the story. They're so scared of the Red Death they won't help or sympathize with each other.
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 light-hearted friends from among the knights and dames of his court, and with these retired to the deep seclusion of one of his castellated abbeys. (2)
Poe nowhere mentions fear as a potential motive for the retreat of Prospero and his friends. Prospero himself is "happy and dauntless and sagacious," and his courtiers are "hale and light-hearted." Quite a rosy picture. Yet it seems like their deepest reason for fleeing is that they're afraid to die, doesn't it?
But in the western or black chamber the effect of the fire-light that streamed upon the dark hangings through the blood-tinted panes, was ghastly in the extreme, and produced so wild a look upon the countenances of those who entered, that there were few of the company bold enough to set foot within its precincts at all. (4)
The nervousness of the revelers around the black room is worth noting. It seems to suggest a certain skittishness towards anything that reminds them of death.