What is the tolling of the ebony clock meant to symbolize and how does the sound make the members of the affair feel? I NEED MAJOR HELP!!! I'm a freshman taking a sophmore honors class and i...

What is the tolling of the ebony clock meant to symbolize and how does the sound make the members of the affair feel?

I NEED MAJOR HELP!!! I'm a freshman taking a sophmore honors class and i understand very very little!!! HELP!!!

Asked on by needhelp11

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amy-lepore's profile pic

amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

The clock is Father Time.  The house is arranged in seven rooms, each decorated differently, which the party goers pass through as the night progresses.  They stop only briefly every hour as the clock strikes.  The striking stirs fear in their hearts since they are locked away from the rest of the town/countryside who are suffering from the Red Death.  Even the music stops briefly each hour at the striking of the clock.

This story is similar to Shakespeare's poem "The Seven Stages of Man" where each of the rooms represents a stage of life in humanity from birth to death.  The clock and the last room--decorated all in black with red windows is the end of the road. None of the party goers feel good about that.

jamie-wheeler's profile pic

Jamie Wheeler | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted on

The clock is symbolic of the passing of life.  It's tolling means that the party (life) will soon be over.  Also, note that the clock is "ebony," black, traditionally a symbol of death.  However, the revelers take little heed of its stern warning, even though Prince Prospero is begging them to listen.  The party-goers think they are safe in the castle, away from the "red death" that is killing hundreds outside its protective walls.  The lesson here is that none will escape death, but many people just don't want to realize (or are too foolish to understand) that the party is definitely over.  No one escapes death. 

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