“Dreams” refer to either thoughts and images that occur during sleep or to cherished ideals or ambitions. His vesture was dabbled in blood—and his broad brow, with all the features of the face, was besprinkled with the scarlet horror. But the symptoms of the diseases bear little relation to each other, besides the fact that they're both fatal. The inevitable end Poe envisions in his story isn't one of judgment and eternal salvation or suffering.
Then, summoning the wild courage of despair, a throng of the revellers at once threw themselves into the black apartment, and, seizing the mummer, whose tall figure stood erect and motionless within the shadow of the ebony clock, gasped in unutterable horror at finding the grave-cerements and corpse-like mask which they handled with so violent a rudeness, untenanted by any tangible form. Once again, the ebony clock's symbolic nature comes into play to put into words one such emotion and idea that no other object could. The “dreams” stalking around the masquerade are the “hale and lighthearted friends” that Prospero conscripted to join his fantasy. But from a certain nameless awe with which the mad assumptions of the mummer had inspired the whole party, there were found none who put forth hand to seize him; so that, unimpeded, he passed within a yard of the prince's person; and, while the vast assembly, as if with one impulse, shrank from the centres of the rooms to the walls, he made his way uninterruptedly, but with the same solemn and measured step which had distinguished him from the first, through the blue chamber to the purple—through the purple to the green—through the green to the orange—through this again to the white—and even thence to the violet, ere a decided movement had been made to arrest him. Our suspicion is that it's because red's a brighter and more dramatic color than black, and tends to increase black's own "freak out" effect when the two are put together (as in the red and black room). The name “Prospero” is derived from the adjective “prosperous,” meaning successful and wealthy. When the eyes of Prince Prospero fell upon this spectral image (which with a slow and solemn movement, as if more fully to sustain its role, stalked to and fro among the waltzers) he was seen to be convulsed, in the first moment with a strong shudder either of terror or distaste; but, in the next, his brow reddened with rage. This allusion helps the author communicate the magnitude of the new masked figure's presence, for it has more of an effect on the crowd than the elaborate party itself. The idea of being trapped or surrounded creates a sense of isolation and claustrophobia, a concept also explored in Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher” and “The Cask of Amontillado”. The lack of visibility prevents the companions from looking too closely at their situation, instead losing themselves in the “voluptuous scene” crafted by Prospero. Each room, in other words, corresponds to a different "stage" of human life, which its color suggests. "Stephen King: Master of Horror" NBC News, New York, NY: NBC Universal, November 27, 1981. Every tick of the clock is a reminder that they are one step closer to death. The Red Death manifests in and uses the blood to “seal” itself to the body. The color suggests the "unknown" from which a human being comes into the world. To “leave means neither of ingress or egress” means to leave no way to enter or exit. The noun “phantasm” refers to an apparition, ghost, illusion, or sensory deception. Which means everyone's trapped: no one can get in or out. The “within” and the “without” represent two different realities, one of nature’s making and the other of Prospero’s making. The clock is time, the indomitable presence that establishes the confines of reality and the inevitability of death. But the echoes of the chime die away—they have endured but an instant—and a light, half-subdued laughter floats after them as they depart. By reading phantasm as illusion, the entire masquerade becomes a farce. The ordering of the rooms can be read as a metaphor for the stages of life, with blue representing birth and black representing death. He bore aloft a drawn dagger, and had approached, in rapid impetuosity, to within three or four feet of the retreating figure, when the latter, having attained the extremity of the velvet apartment, turned suddenly and confronted his pursuer. The intentionality of the figure’s “solemn and measured step” evokes images of a procession or ceremony, specifically a funeral. At first, as he spoke, there was a slight rushing movement of this group in the direction of the intruder, who at the moment was also near at hand, and now, with deliberate and stately step, made closer approach to the speaker. The word “prostrate” refers to the state of lying facedown on the ground, particularly in reverence or submission to a deity or person of higher rank. Performance & security by Cloudflare, Please complete the security check to access.
The “habiliments of the grave” refer to the clothes or the shroud that a corpse was buried in. The visual imagery in the description of the black room is heavy and oppressive, with phrases like “shrouded” and “falling in heavy folds” adding a sense of weight. The biblical book of 1 Thessalonians 5:2 reads: “For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.” 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 focus on the preparation for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, the prophesized apocalypse where all souls will be judged for their sins. Of course, the effect is enhanced even more by that way the clock has of stopping all the dancing and music – in short, all the life – of the party, and making everyone laugh nervously. As the play ends and the reality of Caliban’s plot to murder him resurfaces in his mind, Prospero says, “Our revels now are ended. Poe appreciated the play and uses this allusion to refer to the magnitude and extravagance of Prospero’s masked ball. There was no light of any kind emanating from lamp or candle within the suite of chambers. Though “The Masque of the Red Death” casts death as gruesome and villainous, it also highlights the foolishness of those who try to escape it. They rang throughout the seven rooms loudly and clearly—for the prince was a bold and robust man, and the music had become hushed at the waving of his hand. And Darkness and Decay and the Red Death held illimitable dominion over all. An accelerated heart rate is often associated with fear or exertion, and the exertion of maintaining the illusion of gaiety provides a potential cause. It was in the eastern or blue chamber in which stood the Prince Prospero as he uttered these words. by Edgar Allan Poe (published 1850) Print Version.
Without was the “Red Death.”. Of particular note is the secluded nature of the abbey and the decision to lock the castle from the inside. Imagery is once again Poe's friend; the reader can easily picture a "tall and gaunt" figure with the "countenance of a stiffened corpse." This revelation can be read several ways: On a purely allegorical reading, the masked figure represents death itself. Poe’s gruesome “Red Death” could be based on tuberculosis, commonly called "consumption" in the 19th century. • The escape that Prospero and his friends thought they achieved was an illusion. Prince Prospero is introduced as “happy,” somehow remaining optimistic in the face of the plague. One of the messages implicit in "The Masque of the Red Death" is that no matter how rich you are or how important you may be, there is no escaping death. The presence of the black room suggests the inevitability of death, but the inclusion of the “blood red” window panels serves as a reminder that death is not divorced from life, but rather a natural part of it. Poe is considered one of the defining influences on Gothic literature, and “The Masque of the Red Death” blends traditional tropes and Poe’s own style to establish an unmistakably Gothic setting.
This descriptive language is hypermeaningful (overly meaningful), or "oppressively meaningful," you might say.
Though the narrator primarily uses red to represent death, its associations with blood and vitality serve to remind readers that life and death are irrevocably connected. And these --the dreams --writhed in and about, taking hue from the rooms, and causing the wild music of the orchestra to seem as the echo of their steps. Masks have a variety of connotations with deceit and concealment since they cover the face, preventing others from discerning one’s identity or emotions. The title and introduction directly associate “redness” with death and disease.
Beyond that, its doors are welded shut from the inside. The mask which concealed the visage was made so nearly to resemble the countenance of a stiffened corpse that the closest scrutiny must have had difficulty in detecting the cheat. Reading phantasm as ghost implies that the masqueraders are not grounded in reality but are instead caught in limbo between the reality of death and their desire to escape it.
Learn vocabulary, terms, and more with flashcards, games, and other study tools. In general, they're interested in figuring out Poe's sources of inspiration for this story, and it certainly seems as if Poe's conception of the story was helped along by accounts of the Bubonic plague, also known as the "black death."
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