What feeling do you get when you read The Masque of the Red Death by Edgar Allen Poe?
Does this mood change at all throughout the reading? If so, how? What are some specific words and phrases that the author uses to make you feel this way?
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The overall feeling I get when I read the story is the exact feeling all Gothic and Romantic writers attempt to instill within the reader: The feeling of helplessness that comes from the inevitability of fate.
In this case, Poe brings out the classical example of how not to tempt fate, because it will get you: Protecting oneself from elements which one cannot actually control.
In the story, Prince Prospero is described to us as a man who has it all, and for this reason believes that he DESERVES it all. When he takes his courtiers to this palace in which each room has a different color, and the hallway ends in a black, ebony clock (which symbolizes that we all have a "time to die"), we can almost envy his luck in escaping the calamity of the Red Death.
Yet, once we realize that the Red Death penetrated the palace in disguise, we are reminded of the feeble nature of our humanity: We can only be human. We are prone to disease, death, poverty, and despair no matter what material possessions we enjoy.
Hence, by describing this reality in such an accurate and colorful way, Poe is bringing the strongest topic of Gothic literature (inevitability) in a gracious, powerful, and convincing form that makes us look at ourselves and realize that nobody can escape fate.
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