Homework Help

What does the abbey represent in "The Masque of the Red death" by Edgar Allen Poe?

user profile pic

shotgunnpro | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 10, 2010 at 12:07 PM via web

dislike 2 like

What does the abbey represent in "The Masque of the Red death" by Edgar Allen Poe?

1 Answer | Add Yours

user profile pic

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

Posted January 11, 2010 at 11:23 AM (Answer #1)

dislike 1 like

The abbey is described as being "castellated", which suggests that it might represent both government and religion that people often turn to for safety. As both a castle and an abbey, it is supposed to be a place where "the courtiers might bid defiance to contagion." The doors are even welded shut from the inside so no one can escape. However, it also is bizarre in its layout, especially the rooms in which the ball is held. Unlike most castles or abbeys, one cannot see what lies ahead because "There was a sharp turn at every twenty or thirty yards. . ." and each room in this part of the castle has a different color. Most critics suggest that the rooms each represent a different stage of life. With that in mind, the entire castle probably represents the life that many people think is safe and secure. Unfortunately, the courtiers learn that even when they feel the most safe, death is very close. No matter how satisfied they were that they could not be touched by catastrophe, death itself sought them out and killed them.

Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes