What does the wall symbolize in "The Masque of the Red Death"?

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mattbuckley eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Edgar Allan Poe's classic horrifying tale "The Masque of the Red Death", he tells a tale of pestilence and the attempt of rich nobility to hide from the reality. In this story there existed a wall that stood around the Prince's "castellated abbey". "A strong and lofty wall girdled it in. This wall had gates of iron. The courtiers, having entered, brought furnaces and massy hammers and welded the bolts. They resolved to leave means neither of ingress or egress". This wall is used in this story by Edgar Allan Poe to symbolize how the revelers were attempting to hide and seclude themselves from the real world of death. They hid behind the walls and locked themselves in to keep death out. However, it is shown with their reaction to the clock, that they still understand, no matter how hard they try to ignore it, that time keeps moving forward and pushing them closer to their ultimate demise. It is ironic that this wall that was supposed to keep the infected population out, ended up keeping them all locked inside with the "Red Death".

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The Masque of the Red Death

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