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

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What does each color/room in "The Masque of the Red Death" mean?

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merchant eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Blue: a cool color, the color of lifegiving water, or calm blue skies.

Green: the color of nature and life.

Purple originally was associated with royalty. This was because it was very expensive; originally it was derived from shellfish and it took thousands of shellfish to get one gram of pure dye. Later,"Pope Paul II in 1464 introduced the so-called 'Cardinal's Purple,'" which was extracted from an insect. (Podhajny, par. 10).

Purple is also associated with spirituality and mystery. Another way to think about purple is that it is the combination of hot red and cool blue.

Red is often associated with blood, and thus with life, but also with death (the pouring out of blood). It is a warm color (warm or hot blood), but also a color of autumn.

Orange: also a warm color, and a color of autumn.

Both colors of autumn can be thought of as foreshadowing the end of life (the leaves turn red and orange in autum because they are dead or dying).

White: for Western civilizations, represents cold and death.

Black is, as you said, associated with death, but it also associated with the unknown, and often with fear (most of us have a fear of the dark when we were young). Black hides things - it is a color of blindness.

Reference: Podhajny, Richard M.,Ph.D. "History, Shellfish, Royalty, and the Color Purple." Paper, Film & Foil Converter. 1 July 2002. 13 November 2007. <>

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Reuben Lindsey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Red refers to death, having a connection to blood, the life force of humanity.  Symbolically, green represents growth, as is connected to vegitation and spring.  Purple, a color of royalty, represents achievement is society.  Orange refers to the autumn of life, or middle age, while white refers to old age (as in white hair).

Further Reading:

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mickey2bailey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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I researched this question online and came up with a couple of answers that I feel could be relevant to your question. The seven rooms might signify the 7 stages that a person goes through in their life: birth, toddler, childhood, teen years, middle years, senior years and death.

In the story the placement of the rooms is also significant to this theory.  The rooms go from east to west which represents the way the sun rises, or is "born" each day and then sets or "dies" each day.

It has also been said that the seven rooms represent the seven deadly sins: sloth, lust, gluttony, avarice, pride, anger and covetousness.  The Prince definitely displays all of these sins throughout the course of the evening.

The colors also signify the following  Blue – Birth, Purple - Royalty, Power, Green - Growth and Life, Orange - Destruction or Fire, White – Purity, Violet - Knowledge and Memory, and Black - Death.


Another explanation I ran across to explain the colors are:, Blue means heaven and truth, Purple means sorrow and suffering, Green means nature and hope for eternal life, Orange means strength and endurance, White means light, Violet means dark blood and Black means death or grief.


These are a few of the explanations I ran across in my research.  I hope they help.  As you can see there are many interpretations.

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Jamie Wheeler eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The rooms are blue, purple, green, orange, white, violet, and black, with scarlet panes. The colors are wildly dreamlike and surreal, like entering a state of progressive madness, each color increasingly bizarre. The predominant color, despite all the others competing for attention, however, is red. Red symbolizes blood, and the horrors that are to follow.

The details are in the fourth paragraph, excerpted here:

"That at the eastern extremity was hung, for example, in blue --and vividly blue were its windows. The second chamber was purple in its ornaments and tapestries, and here the panes were purple. The third was green throughout, and so were the casements. The fourth was furnished and lighted with orange --the fifth with white --the sixth with violet. The seventh apartment was closely shrouded in black velvet tapestries that hung all over the ceiling and down the walls, falling in heavy folds upon a carpet of the same material and hue. But in this chamber only, the color of the windows failed to correspond with the decorations. The panes here were scarlet --a deep blood color."

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xandy25 | Student



abdalrhmanaa | Student

as u said The colors  signify the following Blue – Birth, Purple - Royalty, Power, Green - Growth and Life, White– Purity, Violet - Knowledge and Memory, and Black - Death.

prince prosperu tried defending him self by that colors which represents , royalty , power , growth , life , purity , knowledge , thinking that these nice things are enough to protect from death .

but here comes the outcome of the story that nothing can prevent from death even the most beautiful things are not enough .

and because  all these things didnt prevent the strange man ( as mentioned ) which represented red death or death from reaching his goal which is the last , and black room which is death he finnaly relised that he cant from death but he was late

cmac59 | Student

There are seven rooms total. In order they go blue, which means birth. Purple, which is the beginnings of growth or royalty (it depends on who you ask). Green, which means growth and life in general. Orange means strength and endurance. White means purity. Violet means knowledge and memory. Lastly, Black means death.

jocobo | Student

Arrangement of Rooms East to West in Prospero’s Castellated Abbey in Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Masque of the Red Death”

1. blue

2. purple 

 3. green

4. orange

5. white

6. violet

7. black with red windows and a clock that announces the end of each hour

The seven rooms could represent any of the following:

1.     The seven stages of life as laid out by Shakespeare in As You Like It.

a.     This concept resonates because Poe has named his prince Prospero, one of the leading characters of The Tempest.  Prospero was a wizard/king who had control of his island and admitted only those he wished to be there.

b.     The clock in the last room announces the end of each stage, causing all to pause from their revelry

c.      The last room is where everyone dies.

2.     The passage of time as represented by the light of the sun from morning to night, night being the end of day and/or life.

3.     The Seven Deadly Sins is a classification of the most objectionable vices which has been used since early Christian times to educate and instruct followers concerning (immoral) fallen man's tendency to sin. It consists of "Lust", "Gluttony", "Greed", "Sloth", "Wrath", "Envy", and "Pride"—all of which occur in the fortress.

a.     This concept resonates because of Poe’s use of biblical language.

                                                              i.      “comes like a thief in the night”

                                                            ii.      Allusions to the Red Death as an antichrist, an inverted Christ

b.     Contrast these with the seven holy virtues: chastity, temperance, charity, diligence, patience, kindness, and humility—none of which happen inside the fortress.

4.     The seven days of the week, which are named in English after gods (but not God)

a.     Sun-day: the day of the Sun (Sp. Domingo)

b.     Mon-day: the day of the Moon (Sp. Lunes, Roman moon)

c.      Tues-day: Tiwes’ Daeg, the day of the war god, Norse mythology (Sp. Martes, the day of Mars, the Roman god of war)

d.     Wednes-day: Woden’s Daeg, the day of the chief god (Sp. Miercoles)

e.     Thurs-day:  Thor’s Daeg, the god of thunder and lightning (Sp. Jueves, the day of Zeus, who also controlled thunder and lightning)

f.       Fri-day: Frigga’s Daeg, the goddess of marriage (Sp. Viernes-Venus’ day)

g.     Satur-day: Saturn’s day, Latin mythology (Sp. Sabado, Sabbath)

samnesha | Student

1 blue 2 purple 3 green 4 orange 3 white 6 violet 7 black 8 red

there is an extra room because in the black room it has red windows