Analysis of "The Masque of The Red Death" by Edgar Allan Poe

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The story of Prince Prospero and the people within his kingdom allowed me to see how the idea of disestablishment constantly fueled the fear of death rapidly approaching them. Since a plague wiped out many of their people around the country already, each begins to wonder when they will be next. Disestablishment caused the characters to be uncertain as to what their fate will be and made me as a reader imagine certain things that could happen in the storyline. With things all out of sort and not orderly with the disease spreading around them, there is an uncertainty among the people. Poe did a tremendous job in creating a plot which death and sickness acts as an unavoidable way of life since the world was in a sense of disintegration.

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Things are not normal in this story because only rarely does a disease of this magnitude break out and cause this much panic and unreasonable thinking. An example of how disestablishment advances the story’s horror was at the beginning that said, “The Red Death had long devasted the country” that tells me events are occurring causing people to die and live differently than they might have before it broke out. Poe then goes on to say, “When his dominions were half depopulated, he summoned to his presence a thousand hale and light-hearted friends…. To the deep seclusions of one of his castellated abbeys.” This tells me that the disease has spread rapidly, causing the Prince to retreat to a castle with one thousand of his closest friends. As someone who had never read much of Poe, I have seen many movies and shows about diseases and fictional outbreaks, so the background to this story really showed me how horror has evolved and how directors use their plots and other elements to portray it for the reader. Poe also notes that they are his “dominions” which shows that he thinks for them or make decisions on their behalf since he is their leader. A deep seclusion tells me that this abbey is hidden and could act as a fortress against the disease, or a place where it can spread within the walls very easily if exposed.

The clock was a very important symbol that uses disestablishment to advance horror in the story, “the hour was to be stricken, there came from the brazen lungs of the clock a sound which was clear and loud…. The musicians of the orchestra were constrained to pause.. giddiest grew pale… more aged and sedate passed their hands over their brows.” The sound of the clock causes people to stop what they are doing because it reminds them that death is one hour closer to reaching them in the abbey. Imagining this while reading gave me the goosebumps because it’s like someone wanted all their attention and to remind them they were around and quickly approaching, which in this case it was death. If there wasn’t a disease or plague around them, I don’t think they would have stopped for the ringing of the bell, which tells me things aren’t the way they used to be, and other events are playing out. An example of disintegration was when Prince Prospero sees the intruder and says, “who dares insult us with this blasphemous mockery?….that we may know whom we have to hang at sunrise…” The Prince makes a huge mistake here using the phrase “we have to” because it showed how he feared for his death and wasn’t taking any chances making it come sooner. He was very quick to say that they had to be executed while having no idea who it was, while in his case he thought it was the Red Death.

I thought he was psychologically mad when he said this because he had already created an environment where emotion and feelings essentially couldn’t exist. Since the Prince was so afraid of becoming sick, he ended up losing his own mind trying to protect himself and his people before the Red Death could reach them. Disestablishment allowed me as a reader to picture the story in my head and make assumptions or ideas about what could happen next. With so many questions and uncertainty around Prince Prospero’s mindset and his people, this created the horror of the story.

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