Homework Help

What does the masked figure represent in "The Masque of the Red Death"?

user profile pic

jakeman16 | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 24, 2010 at 1:11 AM via web

dislike 1 like

What does the masked figure represent in "The Masque of the Red Death"?

5 Answers | Add Yours

user profile pic

kwoo1213 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted February 11, 2009 at 5:03 AM (Answer #1)

dislike 3 like

Many would say that the masked guest who looks like death represents death itself. For example, the guests are afraid of the masked figure and they are also afraid of dying.  No one has the "guts" to unmask the man.  Also, no one can escape death; the guests attempted to "hole up" on Prince Prospero's mansion; however, they could not be protected from death because death finds all no matter race, ethnicity, age, religion, etc.:

The last line of the story indicates that the Red Death has triumphed over life: "And Darkness and Decay and the Red Death held illimitable dominion over all.’’ (eNotes)

 

user profile pic

Doug Stuva | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted March 24, 2010 at 1:58 AM (Answer #1)

dislike 1 like

The figure you refer to in Poe's "The Masque of the Red Death" is death.  There's no hiding from death, and it gets us all sooner or later.

The speaker describes the figure:

The figure was tall and gaunt, and shrouded from head to foot in the habiliments of the grave.  The mask which concealed the visage was made so nearly to resemble the countenance of a stiffened corpse that the closest scrutiny must have had difficulty in detecting the cheat. 

Habiliments are garments used to wrap corpses, and visage is the figure's face.  In addition, the figure is splattered with blood, its brow "besprinkled with the scarlet horror." 

The figure cannot be kept out no matter what is done to stop it, and in the end it kills everyone.  The figure represents death. 

 

 

user profile pic

Michelle Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted March 24, 2010 at 2:02 AM (Answer #2)

dislike 1 like

It has a threefold meaning:

First, it represents the red death itself, infiltrating itself in the castle with no idea from the courtiers.

With this, another meaning is ascribed:

First, the inevitability of Fate- No matter how much they ran, they still were followed by the red death.

Second, the vulnerability of man- Again, as much as they tried to control a situation by sheltering themselves, it went and found them.

Third: Fate itself- The courtiers tempted it, and she got them- The illness appeared in the castle, as guarded and as sheltered from it as it was.

user profile pic

christina0949 | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 29, 2009 at 3:38 AM (Answer #2)

dislike 0 like

from the title, what can you infer about the masked firgure?

user profile pic

christina0949 | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 29, 2009 at 3:40 AM (Answer #3)

dislike -1 like

what is the ''red death''?

 

Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes