Monday, 28 October 2013
The Masque of the Red Death
The Masque of the Red Death (1842) By: Edgar Allan Poe
A kingdom is ravaged by a disease that leaves the victims convulsing and perspiring blood, not to mention, dead in half an hour. Prince Prospero decides to hole up in his castle. After half a year of hiding, he decides to throw a ball and decorates each room in a different color. The final room he sets in black with a clock so loud it drowns out the musicians and window panes the color of red blood.
Perhaps it's taken a bit too long to get to Poe. A true master of atmosphere and suspense, Poe builds a world of fear and denial, teasing the horrors to come with a description of the plague. This is a classic for all the right reasons, playing on man's fears and causing reflection on that fear. One need look no further than this tale.
Prince Prospero is the lord of a plague ridden land. Though little description of the prince himself is given, we get a feel of him through his actions and decorating decisions. He cares only for himself and his friends; thus, he earns the ire of the Masqued Individual.
The Masqued Individual shows up relatively late in the tale and taunts the nobles with a mask that resembles a dead plague victim. He is often seen as a metaphor, though one should actually reading the tale to find out why.
The castle's decorations are meticulously described. Even the general happenings at the party are rendered so that one gets a feel for what's going on.
In the End
The Masked Individual leads Prospero on a merry chase through the rooms of the party. In the final one his secret is revealed. A great end to a chilling tale.
If you are reading this and you haven't read this story, read it! I'd forgotten how much I personally enjoy this story. It is one of the best horror fictions out there.
There's no excuse; it's free on Project Gutenberg and Kindle.