The Mask of the Red Death is a grim tale that takes place in an imaginary land whose inhabitants die of a mysterious contagion that leaves a red stain on the faces of the victims. The Prince Prospero abandons his citizens and with a thousand selected friends takes refuge in a “crenellated abbey.” This strange residence has seven rooms in different colors, the seventh completely in black with intense blood red glass and an ebony clock whose hourly chime produces a spooky sensation in its guests. One day he decides to have a masquerade party and while the party is in full swing an uninvited guest appears disguised with a terrible mask and the characteristic red stain. Neither his servants nor his guests are unable to capture this baffling figure, but when the embarrassed Prince Prospero runs after him, he slowly slips through the seven gates. When the prince meets this strange person, he falls dead and the guests while grabbing the unknown visitor realize that there is nothing under the mask and slowly they fall lifeless while the ebony clock stops ringing when the last person succumb to death.
Edgar Allan Poe was the master of Gothic fiction with supernatural visitations and in his works he uses language to touch the human spirit and awaken it to the mystery of life. This tale illustrates man’s inability to avoid death and the vanity of trying to avoid deadly destruction. Death is everywhere in history because it begins with the plague and ends with the total elimination of the prince and his guests. The author also creates a growing sense of fear and dread from the beginning of the narration and describes this contagion “the” “RED DEATH” that had devastated the country for a long time … Blood was his Avatar and his seal, the redness and the horror of blood “. These lines create a growing sense of dread and, as a teacher of this genre, Poe was famous for his unique theory of writing and therefore carefully exploits his words to create an “effect” of intense feeling on the reader. The symbol of the seven colored rooms with the first located to the east and the seventh to the west personifies the beginning and the end of life. As for the last room painted black with “the crystals here were scarlet, a deep blood color” personified the Red Death that ravaged the land.
Poe exploits symbols in his writings to show his views on life, religion, love and death and in this excellent story the representation of the masquerade is very important because it helps the participants to hide their true identities. Poe uses this image to illustrate gleeful and jubilant guests who are anxious and suspicious inside, except revelers underneath their masks feel like they can cheat death. This is the main theme so that the title of the story is itself a play on words; The fear of the unknown. Critics have interpreted the seven rooms as the seven stages of man and also as the illustration of the seven deadly sins, although the direction of the rooms is intriguing. In addition, the ebony clock symbol is essential in the plot of the story, since when the time strikes, the guests stop their revelry and fall silent and remain still. This explains the presence of death and when the mysterious masked figure finally appears, the partygoers fall desperate and die on the ground. All these symbols come together to constitute the ending. The title of the story is both a reaction to fear and ignorance of death and thus the depiction of Poe’s symbolism in “The Red Mask of Death” turns the story into a masterpiece of Gothic literature. .