In "The Masque of Red Death" by Edgar Allan Poe, list examples of metaphors and similies.

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teachersage eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Poe's story uses metaphors as it describes the party in the Duke's fantastic, twisting castle with different colored rooms. For example, the abstract word "conceptions" is likened to an image that we can see when Poe writes that the Duke's "conceptions glowed with barbaric lustre."

Poe also uses personification, a specific form of metaphor in which a non-human object is likened to a human being. In this story, the dreams of the revelers at the Duke's castle are described as if they are humans dancing then stopping in the midst of their dance. We learn that the dreams "writhe." When they hear the ebony clock chime "the dreams are stiff frozen as they stand."

The high walled castle with iron gates bolted shut becomes an overarching metaphor for the futile human attempt to shut out death. In this story, the people try literally to lock out death:

This wall had gates of iron. The courtiers, having entered, brought furnaces and massy hammers and welded the bolts.

The story's simile of death coming "like a thief in the night" comes directly from the Bible's New Testament, where it appears several times, such as in the books of Matthew and Revelation. The instance most appropriate to the story is the following:

For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them. (Thessalonians 5:2-4)

Sudden destruction does come upon the revelers. Biblically literate audiences of the time might have understood this as a judgment on the revelers for their hubris, or pride, in thinking they could lock out death. 

morrowl16 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A simile is a comparison that uses like or as, whereas a metaphor is a comparison that does not use like or as. Furthermore, according to, a metaphor often represents or symbolizes something else, especially something abstract.

Here is an example of a simile that exists in "The Masque of Red Death."

When describing death, "[The Red Death] had come like a thief in the night" (6). This is a comparison that uses the word 'like' to compare death to a thief, and the simile implies that death will steal life from everyone. 

Here are some examples of metaphors that exist in "The Masque of Red Death."

"But these other apartments were densely crowded, and in them beat feverishly the heart of life" (4). This metaphor could suggest the desire of the people to hold onto their lives, and could also suggest that those still living were desperately clinging to the last hours of their lives.

"Time that flies" (2) is a metaphor that is used to talk about the ebony clock. This metaphor could represent the inevitability of death since each passing hour serves as a reminder to the masqueraders of their impending death.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

While imagery is most prevalent in “The Masque of the Red Death,” similes and metaphors are also used.

One example of a simile is found on page 6 of the enotes etext, where Death’s mask is described as “corpse-like” and horrifying.  When Death’s presence is acknowledged, they note that “he had come like a thief in the night” (6).

An example of a metaphor is when the party room is described as “a strong and lofty wall girdled it in” (4).  The walls are compared to a girdle, which is an interesting metaphor because girdles are used by vain people to make themselves look better, and the prince is definitely vain.

Another example of a metaphor is, “but these other apartments were densely crowded, and in them beat feverishly the heart of life” (5).  This metaphor also matches the color imagery, and the red and blood imagery used throughout the story.


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The Masque of the Red Death

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