The Masque of the Red Death Questions and Answers
by Edgar Allan Poe

The Masque of the Red Death book cover
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In the Red Death by Edgar Allan Poe what lesson does the black chamber teach and what does the music represent?  

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Thanh Munoz eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The black chamber, I would argue, represents what Prospero and the courtiers fear, the world of disease and death. We are told that few of them are "bold enough" to enter the room, and the chiming of the clock within causes everyone to be transfixed, as if listening to a prediction of their doom.

The music played by the orchestra could arguably represent the outward, superficial happiness the revelers are experiencing, or think they are experiencing, in a presumed haven of safety within the walls of the palace. In some sense they know that they're deceiving themselves. When the clock strikes the hour, everyone pauses in his or her revelry, as if it's a reminder to them that they cannot evade the Red Death—or death in general—forever. The clock is the one thing that punctures the disregarding and selfish mood of Prospero and his people, and its placement in the seventh chamber is significant. Both orchestra and dancers stop at the chiming; their dreamworld is interrupted, but only momentarily, until a new masker is seen among them.

When the figure of the Red Death appears, the clock has just struck midnight. Poe both uses cliches of literature and creates them. Prospero thinks to destroy the figure with his dagger but is killed himself, as the Red Death has lured him into the seventh chamber that is a symbol of death. The courtiers are then killed as well by the figure, which is seen to be a costume empty of any living person, like a hollow man representing the nothingness of the world of death.

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chicagorilke23 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In Edgar Allan Poe's Masque of the Red Death, the black chamber has come to represent death. The fact that it is the one room that many of the guests at the ball are reluctant to enter adds some merit to this notion. Also, the black chamber is the last room visited by Prince Prospero on his hunt for the mysterious stranger who has frightened his guests. The black chamber is the room in which Prince Prospero meets his end. It symbolizes how every being must face death at the end of their journey of life.

The music played by the orchestra can be thought of as a heart beat that continues to beat throughout the story. It stops upon the clanging of the ebony clock. The ebony clock like the black chamber are symbols of the impending doom to be visited upon Prince Prospero and his guests. The music stopping at each clang of the clock represents the fear the guests have of the unknown, in this case death. It's as if the clock symbolizes the need to cling to life and for those attending the ball, act as a shield from the disease and suffering taking place outside the walls of Prince Prospero's abbey.

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lilmike2124 | Student

whats the life lesson of the story