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“Masque of the Red Death” & “The Raven” Comparison

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Edgar Allan Poe was a writer noted for consistencies in the dark and gothic style in his writing. Poe was a very popular for his short stories and poems which clearly shows his creative brilliance. He was renowned as the master of horror and also known, read, and appreciated for his numerous short stories and poems. His writing is uniquely terrifying and intriguing at the same time, and as well as bring up the question of life and death. In his writing he has expressed a familiar rhythm throughout his work. He uses the theme of death and it is probably related to the death of his young wife “Virginia” or his mother, who died when he was only three. Poe is also obsessed with the theme of color he uses through his writing, to describe simple imagery or to create symbolism. In the short story, “The Masque of the Red Death,” and the poem, “The Raven,” Edgar Allan Poe uses similar themes of death and uses color excessively to show imagery and symbolism.

It is clear that Edgar Allan Poe was obsessed with the topic of death and it is even more clear that he had an extremely morbid imagination. Poe describes fear and death all throughout his writing. Just by looking at his language, you can tell his intentions were to strike terror into the hearts of the reader. All of his adjectives and adverbs are very dark, sinister, and gothic. He uses his narrators to steadily build the suspense by having them become more frantic as the story progresses. The characters in several of his stories such as the “The Masque of the Red Death” and “The Raven” become more erratic as the story/poem progresses. In the raven, the story is about the man who dreads over the death of his beloved wife Lenore. Throughout the story he wants have the ability to see her again and pleads to a raven if he’ll let him. The raven itself symbolizes death and declines the characters ever request, although they were not done intentionally.

As it said “sitting on the pallid bust of Pallas.” (104). The word Pallid itself is defined as pale, and paleness represents death. In “The Masque of the Red Death”, the entire story is about death itself. It is about a pestilence called the Red Death that takes peoples lives away one by one. It is about how humans want to escape death any way possible. The Prince’s actions symbolize the ways in which all humans tend to focus on material pleasures in order to not pay attention to reality. The prince tries to postpone their ultimate death, but no matter how planned out everything is, not even a prince, can stop death.

Color as well as death, is a very rhythmic theme that was presented all through the stories. Color was used to describe imagery of the characters, places, as well as objects. It was also used to point out imagery. Red represented blood and death. Black represented evil and fear. This is why the raven was described as “this ebony bird…” (41). It was black bird that represented death and striked fear into the heart of the main character. The main character of “the Raven” said, “Prophet, said I. Thing of evil. – prophet still. If bird or devil!” (228). The Raven is clearly portrayed as an evil presence signified by the color.

In “The Masque of the Red Death,” color is important here too. Not only was it used to describe the color of the rooms and how it was magnificently described as the “feeling” of the room. Black was the death room, as it was where the prince had fallen. The Red windows were symbolizing blood that would be spilled into that room, for the sun had shun into the room thru the red windows. The clock in the end was also emphasized with color, “stood erect and motionless within the shadow of the ebony clock” (231). The clock was shown as a evil presence which watched everyone die, and it died with them as well.

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