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The Inevitability of the Red Death

In: English and Literature

Submitted By EddieW818
Words 1908
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The Inevitability of the Red Death Edgar Allen Poe's “The Masque of the Red Death” is an extravagant allegory of the futility of trying to escape death. In the story, a prince named Prospero tries to avoid the Red Death through isolation and seclusion. He hides behind the impenetrable walls of his castle and turns his back on the rest of the world. But no walls can stop death because it is unavoidable and inevitable. Through the use of character, setting, point of view, and symbol, Poe reveals the theme that no one, regardless of status, wealth or power can stay the passing of time and the inevitable conclusion of life itself, death. Like many of Poe’s works, the number of characters in “Masque of the Red Death” is limited; however they all work to reveal the theme. Only three characters, Prince Prospero, the Thousand Friends and the Masked Figure are mentioned. The central figure of the story is Prince Prospero. The author describes him as “happy and dauntless and sagacious” (Poe, 386). His name is used to infer royalty, wealth and happiness, and suggests that the prince is untroubled by the plague and is confident of his survival and the survival of his one thousand friends. Prospero has been described by scholars as a “feelingless ruling prince” (Wheat, 51). This is due to his apparent lack of concern for the people of his land: “The external world could take care of itself” (Poe, 386). Prospero is a flat character as he remains confident in his survival up to the end. The Thousand Friends are not well developed and can be considered stock characters. The reader is led to believe that they are simply followers of the prince, although “there are some who would have thought him mad” (Poe, 388). It has also been suggested that they are simply figments of an insane man’s imagination (Wheat, 54). When they pause with dread every time the clock strikes a…...

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