Allegory

Allegory

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“The Masque of the Red Death” is an allegory because Poe hascreated an imagined world, which represents the impossibility ofescaping death.

refers to a literary element where the setting, characterand plot are a representation of ideas. In most instances, the ideashave a moral teaching or political connotation. It is possible for anauthor to write a story that directly communicates its meaning, bynot using symbols or metaphors. However, using allegory instorytelling makes it possible to have a better understanding ofconcepts. In addition, by using allegory, it becomes easy to discussunpleasant issues like death. An illustration is Poe’s use ofallegory to demonstrate how death is inescapable regardless ofsocioeconomic status.

Once the plague becomes widespread in Prospero’s kingdom, hegathers those within his socioeconomic status to an abbey-fortress.Together, they endeavor to escape death but it still appears to them.The name Prospero signifies that the king is prosperous. Prospero and“a thousand hale and light-hearted friends from among the knightsand dames of his court” (Poe 1), escape the plague. They leave the“external world to take care of itself” (Poe 1) in this case,the “external world” refers to those from a low socioeconomicclass. Prospero and his friends move to an abbey where they entertainthemselves and temporarily escape the plague, which is causing deathto those of the lower class. However, the red death appears in formof a masked stranger where the wealthy have locked themselves. Itappears at the masquerade and terrifies Prospero and his alliesresulting in their death.

The masquerade’s attempt to escape death by living in rooms wherethey suppose that death cannot meet them, but they eventually followProspero into the death room (Poe 1-3). The abbey comprises of sevenrooms that are allegorical because of their arrangement. They areorganized from east to west. East symbolizes the beginning of life,just as the sun rising from east. West signifies the end of life, asthe sunsets in the west. In addition, allegory is apparent becauseeach room has different colors with different meanings. There is ablue room on the Far East representing birth, the second room ispurple to signify growth, the third is green associated with youth,and the fourth room is in orange, followed by white and violet. Thelast room is black/dark, which is a color associated with death. Itis in the dark room that an intruder enters. The intruder is from the“external world”, and his entry into the room angers Prospero.Prospero is unaware that the intruder is a red death messenger. Oncein the room, the messenger embraces Prospero resulting in his death,as is the case with his Prospero’s allies who follow him to theroom.

By using the words “Red Death” Poe allegorically refers to deathitself and demonstrates how it is impossible to escape. Poe choosesto use red as the color linked to death, in place of the obviousblack. As a result, the author can invent a plague. Red is bright andenhances the fear in Prospero once he sees the intruder. It ispossible that Poe associates read death with “Black Death”, whichalso compelled people to isolate themselves from suffering from theplague. The masquerades are afraid of the bright red color, whichthey attempt to chase away when it appears in the black room.Instead, they end up embracing death by coming into contact with thecontaminated messenger.

In conclusion, it is apparent that “The Masque of the Red Death”is allegorical. The author uses symbolism as well as imagery thatdirect the reader to a single conclusion. That is, the oncoming deaththat cannot be escaped.makes it possible to interpret thedifferent ideas that Poe aims at communicating.

Work Cited

Poe, Edgar Allan. The Masque of the Red Death, 1-3.