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In "The Masque of the Red Death," what does the ebony clock symbolize and...

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kary101 | Student | eNotes Newbie

Posted September 26, 2008 at 11:46 AM via web

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In "The Masque of the Red Death," what does the ebony clock symbolize and why does it have such a dramatic effect on the dancers?

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ms-mcgregor | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted September 26, 2008 at 11:57 AM (Answer #1)

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Traditionally, clocks often represent time or the passage of time. Poe uses the clock in this manner. The ebony or black clock stands in the last room of Prince Prospero's castle. Black is a traditional symbol of death. If you think of each room as representing a different stage of life, then the black clock in the last room has to symbolize death or time left until death. At a very basic level, the dancers understand this. After all, they came to the castle so they could escape death by shutting out all other people. But surely they knew they could not escape a natural process forever. Thus, they stop when the ebony clock chimes because it reminds them that their time is limited. That is why when the red death finally makes an appearance, he goes to the last room, the symbol of death, where eventually all the revelers die.


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tannerhale | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 31, 2012 at 8:42 AM (Answer #2)

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It means they are close to the end of their parties and they can sleep with eachother.

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