The Masque of the Red Death
We know we say this for all of his stories, but here's Edgar Allan Poe at his creepiest. Well, if you don’t include that time you went into the bathroom to brush your teeth and noticed that he was just standing there in the shower, watching you. What was he even doing there?
|19th-Century Literature||19th-Century American Literature|
|American Literature||19th-Century American Literature|
All American Literature
|Author||Poe - Edgar Allan Poe|
Foolishness and Folly
Versions of Reality
of the Red Death…
...a terrible plague drives Prince Prospero and his besties to lock themselves in an isolated
…in order to avoid a very unpleasant death.
Yeah. Because cheating death always works. After several months of partying with his
...Prince Prospero decides to throw an extravagant masked ball in his Super Awesome Rainbow Colored
Subterranean Party Suite.
For obvious reasons, Death doesn't get an invite.
The denizens of the abbey may be partying like it's 1399, but they're doing so in a
decidedly eerie place...
...which begs the question: How does the setting of Poe's story create fear and dread in the
reader? Could the abbey's isolation make the reader
afraid? After all, although Prince Prospero and his pals voluntarily lock themselves up
to escape the plague...
...in barring the doors, they actually trap themselves in the abbey so they can't escape
if something goes wrong.
What if death decides to… crash the party?
The weird colors, abrupt turns, and spooky lighting effects mirror Prince Prospero's
The madness made visible in the seven rooms of the suite makes the reader uncomfortable...
...or, in the case of the creeptastic black room, terrified.
The black room seems like a place where death would be right at home.
In fact, critics suggest that the colors of the seven rooms symbolize different stages
of human life, moving from the blue room, or birth...
...to the black room, or death.
So how does the setting of The Masque of the Red Death inspire fear and dread in the reader?
Is it the abbey's isolation that makes you afraid?
Is it the crazy, spooky, designed-by-a-lunatic party suite?
Or does it represent stages from life to death? Shmoop amongst yourselves.