Chiadika 1

Chiadika Obinwa
Mrs. Caren Kline
English II
15 September 2015
Literary Analysis of Masque of the Red Death
In the book “Masque of the Red Death” by Edgar Allen Poe, there are many
different examples of symbolism that can be shown in the story, especially
examples of symbolism relating to death, illness, or other relatively dark subjects
(most likely due to Poe’s continual struggles throughout his life). Accounting for
these different examples is critical to being able to understand the short story on
anything deeper than a superficial level.
One of the bigger examples in the story is the rooms in which the story takes
place. The ornaments and windows in the seven different rooms in Prince Prospero’s
castle each have different colors – blue, purple, green, orange, white, violet, and
black, progressing from east to west. The fact that that there are seven rooms (the
same number of days in a week) along with the rooms going from east to west can
be interpreted as some sort of passage through time, specifically Prince Prospero’s
life.
Blue, being the color of the first and east-most room, would obviously
represent
Purple
Green
Orange
White
Violet
The last room is interesting, for a variety of reasons. Firstly, it represents the
“end” of the journey, because it is the last and west-most room in the castle. As
well, black (at least in Western society) usually represents death. In addition, unlike
the other rooms, the windows were not black, like the rest of the room, but “scarlet
– a deep blood color”. I found it interesting that while the windows are obviously a
shade of red, it is never simply described as red in the book. I personally think that
the windows are a different color than the rest of the room due to the situation in
which this story takes place. As noted in the story, there is a terrible plague, of
which “Blood was its Avatar and seal – the redness and horror of blood.” The disease
plays a pivotal and central role in the whole story, considering that the masquerade

Chiadika 2
within Prospero’s castle was meant to avoid it. The shade of the windows represents
the blood of the Red Death.
As well, that last room is where the story eventually climaxes and concludes.
Its symbolism, death, is very apparent in this part. The stranger in the black room is
described as so – “The figure was tall and gaunt, and shrouded from head to foot in
the habiliments of the grave. 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. And yet all this might have been
endured, if not approved, by the mad revellers around. But the mummer had gone
so far as to assume the type of the Red Death. His vesture was dabbled in blood –
and his broad brow, with all the features of the face, was besprinkled with the
scarlet horror.”

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