What word does Poe use to describe the ''deadly disease'' in the story "The Masque of the Red Death"?

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mattbuckley eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Edgar Allan Poe's classic chilling tale "The Masque of the Red Death" he uses intense imagery and description to create his atmosphere of horror. He describes the disease in great horrifying detail for the audience so they can truly and understand and picture the bloody nature of this plague. He refers to the unrelenting deadly disease as a "pestilence" which is defined by dictionary.com as a "deadly or virulent epidemic disease". The key to this word choice is that the Red Death is one hundred percent deadly and highly contagious and infective causing a widespread outbreak among many people at the same time. Edgar Allan Poe also uses this intense imagery to describe the horrible effects the disease has on the people who contract it. Of the deadly disease he states that, "no pestilence had been ever so fatal, or so hideous. Blood was its Avatar and its seal - the redness and the horror of blood." He then goes on to describe in great detail the pain and the "profuse bleedings at the pores" which would then shut the victim "out from the aid and from the sympathy of his fellow-men." He also related the short span that it took to kill the victims, "the whole seizure, progress and termination of the disease, were the incidents of half an hour".

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The Masque of the Red Death

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