Who would ever think that a scheme of seven colorful rooms actually portrayed a person’s cycle of life? Edgar Allan Poe used his talent in writing to make this scenario come true. This short story, The Masque of The Red Death, was written by Edgar Allan Poe and is under the genre of horror and gothic fiction. Prince Prospero hosted a masquerade party. Throughout the party, the guests of the party traveled throughout each colorful embellished room that represented them growing and proceeding through the stages of life. They then learn that running away from death will not stop death from taking its course on them.
Death caught up to them, and death killed every party once they got closer to the last room, which represented death. Each of the seven rooms has a meaning, representing a stage of life. The Masque of The Red Death is an allegorical short story about progressing through life, which is shown through the significance of the seven rooms of Prince Prospero’s home. The first two rooms of Prince Prospero’s house were painted and decorated in the colors blue and purple. These two colorful rooms represented the first two stages of life. The room furthest to the east was the blue room, portraying birth, the beginning of life. This also portrayed the beginning of the sunset, the morning blue sky. Water is also a symbolic meaning of babies and the start of a person’s life, which is also blue. The next room the guests wander to is the purple room. This room color represents the stage of childhood. This is the time after infanthood, and before the teenage years. This stage of life is full of growth, learning, and many childhood adventures. In the story, the narrator describes how Prince Prospero was smart with the design of his house. He says, He had a fine eye for colors and effects (Poe 85).
Poe portrays the deep meaning of the stages of life through something as simple as describing the way the prince has a particular style for decorating. The chambers of blue and purple indicate the start of the stages of life, helping to portray the meaning that Poe shows through his writing. As the party guests continue through the party, they meander to the nearest rooms to the purple room, the green and orange rooms. These rooms emphasize the meaning of maturing and experiencing adulthood. The room neighboring the purple chamber is the green room. This vibrant colored chamber depicts the deep meaning of the youth and teenage years of a person’s lifetime. This stage of the life cycle is about growing and maturing into a youthful teenager, eventually coming close to the adult years. Next is the fourth chamber, the room in the middle of the seven rooms. Orange is the color of the walls and precise decorations of this middle chamber. The orange color of this room symbolizes the years of adulthood. Since the room is the center of the house, it also symbolizes the middle of a person’s life and adulthood, a mid-life crisis. As described in the story, There were much glare and glitter and piquancy and phantasm (Poe 85).
This quote illustrates the defined detail of each chamber. Edgar Allan Poe uses the way he described this defined detail to portray the vivid colors and meaning of life. These middle rooms symbolize the middle of life, then leading to the last rooms. As the party comes closer to an end, the people of the masquerade get closer to the last rooms of the house. Following the orange chamber is the white chamber, the violet chamber, and the black chamber. These three colors progress from light to dark, depicting how towards the end of a person’s life, it goes downhill as they are sooner to facing death. The first out of the three rooms is the white room. This room symbolizes old age, following adulthood. White is a well-known color to represent old age, as Poe used in his writing. The next room is darker, painted with violet walls and decorations. Sickness is symbolized by the dark violet chamber. Old age leads to sickness in the life cycle, which then leads to death. That leads to the seventh room, the last room. This last chamber is pitch black, representing death.
This room is slightly different from the other six. Every room has a stained glass window, the same color as the walls and embellishments, lighted by a tripod of fire in the corridors. This room, in particular, had a window of a different color. The window of this dark room was blood red. The little light that the tripod gave to room through the window panes brought an eerie feel to the chamber. The red was a pop of color that contrasted against the pitch black walls and embellishments. More vividly described in the story, But in the western or black chamber the effect of the firelight that streamed upon the dark hangings through the blood-tinted panes, was ghastly in the extreme (Poe 84).
This room was very mysterious and frightening, creating an effect of terror on the guests of Prince Prospero’s party. This eeriness of the last room helped to portray the symbolism of death, the last stage of life. Poe put a lot of meaning into the colors of these rooms. The Masque of The Red Death is a story that can be interpreted in many different ways, as it as an allegorical story. One way could be just as a simple party held by a Prince locked away in his home, trying to escape sickness.
Another could be understanding the deep meaning of each room representing the cycle of life. This story is an allegory on many levels. For example, the color scheme of the rooms also represents a sunrise to a sunset. The rooms are arranged from the east to the west, corresponding to the way the sun rises/sets from the east to the west. The color scheme of the rooms also progresses from light colors, like blue, to dark colors like black. This resembles how the sky lights up in the morning with light colors, and at night it becomes dark with the dark colors of the night sky. The Masque of The Red Death by Edgar Allan Poe is a remarkable story that has plot and symbolism.
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