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Symbolism in The Masque of the Red Death

            The short story "The Masque of the Red Death" was written by the famous Edgar Allan Poe. This story took place in the 1300s, when the Black Death was taking over Europe. During this time, it was known for wealthy people to lock themselves in their homes protected by gates and guards, to hide from the plague. Poe was a man who had experiences with a disease that killed many people in his lifetime. In the story "The Masque of Red Death," Poe uses symbolic messages through the seven colored rooms, the ebony clock and the red death to express his views and feelings towards the disease. .
             Poe's usage of colors within each room in the Prince's castle creates a mood of transformation throughout life. An English scholar expands on this idea: "The seven chambers can work as a symbol for time that passes by in life and its phases, because their interior design and lighting color differs from each other. As people transition through different stages of their lives, there can be a transition of their attitudes and behaviors that are represented by the color changes in the chambers" (Gilbert). The rooms of the palace, lined up in a series, represent the stages of life. Poe makes it a point to arrange the rooms running from east to west. This progression is symbolically significant because it represents the life cycle of a day: the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, with night symbolizing death and the morning symbolizing birth. In the story it states "The seventh apartment was closely shrouded in black velvet tapestries that hung all over the ceiling and down the walls, falling in heavy folds upon a carpet of the same material and hue. But in this chamber only, the color of the windows failed to correspond with the decorations. The panes here were scarlet --a deep blood color" (Poe). The last room is decorated in black and is illuminated by a scarlet light.

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