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Edgar Allan Poe’s short story The Masque of the Red Death
The elements of mystery, horror and romanticism characterizing the Gothic literary genre distinguished it greatly from many other genres when it appeared in the late 18th century. During the years since, the Gothic style has influenced many authors and found many fans among readers. One of the best representatives of the Gothic literature is an American writer Edgar Allan Poe (1809 - 1849).
Poe’s short story The Masque of the Red Death expresses the idea of the death, which remorseless and can not be escaped by anyone. The story takes place at an abbey, where Prince Prospero and one thousand other nobles are trying to escape a terrible plague, which is called the Red Death. One night, Prospero holds a masquerade to entertain his guests. About midnight, Prospero and other masqueraders notice a guest dressed in grey and wearing a mask reflecting a victim of the Red Death. To everyone’s horror, the guest reveals himself as the personification of the Red Death. Finally, Prospero, together with the guests of the masquerade, dies from the disease.
To begin with, the title of the story could be interpreted as Gothic. The red colour could be distinguished, because in most sources it is associated with “blood, death-throes and sublimation”, while Ferber in the Dictionary of Literary Symbols explains it concentrating on “the colour of devil”. In this case both interpretations perfectly represent the story The Masque of the Red Death, because those elements reflect the very idea of death and the image of evil, which represent that particular masquarader named the Read Death.
Throughout the story, the very idea of horror is expressed with the help of a great variety of images and details, which naturally evokes fear. For instance, death is allegorically represented by a mysterious guest who appears at the masquerade ball:
“The figure was tall and gaunt, and shrouded from...