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Literary Analysis of “The Masque of the Red Death”

In the story, The Masque of the Red Death by Edgar Allan Poe, the author tries to create a specific atmosphere to emphasize the action within the story. The setting of the story immensely helps to create this atmosphere. Poes descriptive setting aids in creating the atmosphere of the story by developing mood, evoking feelings from the reader, and creating a false sense of security. The setting of The Masque, which Poe effectively and thoroughly illustrates, helps to create a desired atmosphere by developing the mood of the story.

Poe describes the masque as “a gay and magnificent revel” in which “the prince had provided all the appliances of pleasure. ” This creates a joyous and blissful mood, and shows that the masque, for the most part, was a rather jubilant occasion. However, Poe also illustrates how a gigantic ebony clock, located in the westernmost apartment of the abbey, causes “the giddiest to grow pale” with the sound of a loud, deep, and rather peculiar note when the clock strikes each hour.

The “uneasy cessation of all things” resulting from the sound of the clock creates an unpleasant and apprehensive mood, directly opposite from the joyful mood described earlier. These descriptive settings of the clock and the rest of the masque are what assists in creating a desired atmosphere throughout the story. Another key element of how the setting affects the atmosphere is how the setting evokes feelings from the reader.

There are seven rooms within the abbey, all a different color ranging from blue in the first room to black in the last room. Each room has two large windows that correspond in color to their respective rooms, excluding the black apartment in which the windows are stained a blood red color. The last room causes the reader to have rather dreary, dismal feelings of the room, feelings of uneasiness and death. This is in direct contrast with all of the other rooms, as they tend to leave the impression of gaiety and bliss with the reader.

The sharp differentiation and vivid description of the last room as compared to all the others gives the reader the feeling that this room is to be of importance later in the story and thereby helps create the atmosphere for the story. In The Masque, Poe also conveys a false sense of security with his first description of the abbey. He calls it “an extensive and magnificent structure” which has “a strong and lofty wall[with] gates of iron” encircling it.

After the courtiers have entered the abbey, the gates are welded shut, which the prince believes is enough to keep the disease of the “Red Death” out. Poe even goes as far as to state that “with such precautions the courtiers might bid defiance to contagion. ” Poe is trying to convey the idea that the masqueraders believe that they are completely safe within the abbey, and then show that when the Red Death appears they could not escape death.

This is done so that the reader can see that the whole atmosphere created by the prince is false, and that the masqueraders seal their fates when they seal the gate to the abbey. In The Masque, Poes descriptive setting plays an important role in creating the atmosphere for the action within the story. Through developing mood, evoking feelings from the reader, and creating a false sense of security, Edgar Allan Poe creates a desired atmosphere for The Masque of the Red Death.

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