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Mood in Poe’s “The Masque of Red Death” Short Story Essay

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Updated: Sep 17th, 2022

Edgar Alan Poe’s short story The Masque of Red Death is a unique piece, allowing the reader to experience Gothic fiction and analyze death’s inevitability through the author’s allegoric instruments. The central topic of the plague sets a specific mood to the story, helping a reader better understand the content and writing setting. The spirit is reflected through the writer’s tone, which directly represents their subjective perspectives.

The tone of The Masque of Red Death starts to translate from a story’s title, anticipated to be dark and grievous. Indeed, the opening lines indulge a dreadful mood, followed by a permanent feeling of intimidation: The “Red Death” had long devastated the country. No pestilence had ever been so fatal or so hideous. Blood was its Avatar and its seal-the redness and the horror of blood” (Poe 1). The narration sets a mysterious tone, with Poe’s vivid imagery easily controlling the reader’s attention through suspense.

One of the most mysterious symbolist elements in the story describes the seven coloured rooms. Each reader may elaborate on their perception of the colors; however, a common point of view is the representation of seven life stages, starting from birth to death. For instance, black and blood-red rooms exemplify death and life intensity. However, with no Poe’s elaboration on the symbolism, each reader is left to reckoning on the individual meaning, which induces mystical and somewhat anxious tones.

The Red Death is one of Poe’s primary symbolist elements, which unmistakably is a representation of death. The author’s detailed portrayal of death attracts and simultaneously intimidates the reader, setting a frightful and ominous mood of the overall story: “And now was acknowledged the presence of the Red Death. He had come like a thief in the night” (Poe 4). The Red Death image haunts the reader through the short story, constantly leaving a haunting feeling of inevitable death.

The tone of the story is an essential tool for each writer for setting the correct atmosphere for readers, which Edgar Alan Poe masterly did in The Masque of Red Death. Throughout the story, the mysterious and dreadful symbolism retains the reader’s attention, constantly anticipating the next plot twist. The overall dark and menacing tone of the piece manifests itself, especially in the ending, where everyone dies. Thus, the mood is easily identified, expressing a frustrating deadly mood.

Works Cited

Poe, Edgar Alan. . 1850. ASU Public Library. Web.

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"Mood in Poe’s “The Masque of Red Death” Short Story." IvyPanda, 17 Sept. 2022, ivypanda.com/essays/mood-in-poes-the-masque-of-red-death-short-story/.

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IvyPanda. "Mood in Poe’s “The Masque of Red Death” Short Story." September 17, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/mood-in-poes-the-masque-of-red-death-short-story/.

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IvyPanda. 2022. "Mood in Poe’s “The Masque of Red Death” Short Story." September 17, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/mood-in-poes-the-masque-of-red-death-short-story/.

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IvyPanda. (2022) 'Mood in Poe’s “The Masque of Red Death” Short Story'. 17 September.

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