My review of “The Masque of the Red Death” by Edgar Allan Poe | Teen Ink

My review of “The Masque of the Red Death” by Edgar Allan Poe

March 9, 2023
By ToniC601 BRONZE, Cupertino, California
ToniC601 BRONZE, Cupertino, California
3 articles 0 photos 1 comment

Favorite Quote:
“In the quiet, misty morning,
when the moon has gone to bed,
when the sparrows stop their singing,
and the sky is clear and red.”
-Homeward Bound (my favorite song)

A Color Lesson - “The Masque of the Red Death”

Just imagine a monstrous and deadly disease exists in your world, and someone told you that you are invited to a place with strong protection over the virus. Will you go there? “The scarlet stains upon the body and especially upon the face of the victim, were the pest ban which shut him out from the aid and from the sympathy of his fellow-men.” Many people did, portrayed in the short story, “The Masque of the Red Death''. Each color describes a part of humanity. Together, they suggest a big philosophy about life and death, showing people’s natural connotation and their greediness to escape death. In the thrilling story, author Edgar Allan Poe created seven colored chambers using his broad imagination - six popular chambers plus one with no visitors inside. In my opinion, blue, red, and black are the most important colors to contribute to the theme. Bright blue symbolizes beauty and birth. Red foreshadows horror, blood and death. Black brings up a sense of darkness and suggests a pursuit of brightness. Although they are simple colors, they suggest important ideas of humanity altogether.  

The blue of the room is as bright as the sunny sky, with the panes and other furniture the same color. Only the stylish room grabs attendants’ attention. According to Poe, a scary-looking black room was at the very back, while this blue chamber was set to be at the beginning. Symbolizing birth and beauty, blue may be the first in order because people were born first before anything else happened. This color encourages all, that even with the Red Death still around, there is still beauty in living. Blue reminds them pleasant moments. Since the visitors like this positive concept and connotation in their culture, the blue chamber becomes very popular and crowded, unlike the seventh room. As a reader, I found the purpose of including the blue door to let the readers have a feeling that how long one may live does not matter. How beautiful life is matters. 

The title of the story is called “The masque of the red death, thus the most important color among the seven chamber colors is most likely red. Red can have positive and negative meanings. It is a symbol of passion, love, and life, but also blood, evil, and death. In this case, the redness of the panes is described as “blood-coloured” and “scarlet” - foreshadowing a suspense and horrific plot. This gave the color red all the negative connotations such as death. Plus, naming the deadly disease itself the “Red Death” corresponds with its symptoms, blood all over the strangely-posed bodies. “The prince had provided all the appliances of pleasure… All these and security were within. Without was the ‘Red Death’ ”. It is also notable that all of the visitors have been informed by Prince Prospero that the castle provided security to protect the population from the Red Death. Despite the promise from the prince, visitors are still so haunted that they did not even approach anything red. 

The scarlet red pane was enough for people to see, but the black background behind it made the whole chamber more ghosty and spooky. The seventh room is the only room, where the window color does not correspond to that of the decorations. The decorations are red, while the walls are black. This special design adds more tension to the visitor’s minds. Poe uses detailed imagery, “But in the western or black chamber the effect of the fire-light that streamed upon the dark hangings through the blood-tinted panes, was ghastly in the extreme…” Different from all the other colors, black is the darkest among them all, naturally giving people a sense of darkness. The candle lights cannot fix the darkness of the room but only emphasize the scarlet, blood-colored panes. Black seems to intensify evilness to the originally evil Red Death. Notably, people favor brightly colored chambers over darkly colored ones, which possibly represents the strong desire of human beings for a bright and colorful life. It also proves their realistic greediness of living and their avoidance of negative energy. This does not mean humans should not be afraid of death, but they should not be fascinated by ‘immortality’ to not live in the moment. No one can escape death. 

Luckily, the people enjoying the dance do not have to come across the black room to go to other rooms. 

At last, no one in the castle survives, all are dead. The short story uses color allegory to represent parts of humanity, that no one can escape death. Poe includes many psychological effects as those colors, especially red and black, bring an unsettling atmosphere vividly. He also writes bright colors in contrast to darkness. Is not it interesting that colors get to be a part of the death story? Considering this, “The Masque of the Red Death '' suddenly becomes a color lesson. It sounds like it comes from a psychologically impaired, but it is simply by an author with a distinctive mind of logic.

The author's comments:

Imagine reading a Gothic Thriller book on Valentine’s Day! Yep, that’s me. On February 14, 2023, I enjoyed “The Masque of the Red Death” by Edgar Allan Poe. It was a very fun read. The story is considered to be in sub-genre Dark Romance, which was popular in the late 20th century. I was fascinated by the color allegory (connotation and symbolism of colors) used throughout to create the suspense atmosphere. Blood warning though. I have also read other stories by E.A.P., such as “The Tell-Tale Heart”, but this story that I will review is my favorite of this author. Moreover, it is my favorite among all romance. You know why?…because I like DARK romance! 

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