Why does Prospero decorate the rooms like he does in "The Masque of the Red Death"?

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Susan Woodward eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Poe's seven chambers in "Masque of the Red Death" symbolize the stages of life.  The first room is blue and is located in the east.  The sun rises in the east, signifying the birth of each new day as well as the birth of man.  Blue is a calming color that symbolizes the serene life of infancy.  The next room, purple, is a deepening of the blue hue mixed with the red of experience... this is childhood when the baby gains some experiences in life (learning to walk, talk, how to relate to the world around him).  As the child grows, the third (green) room could symbolize youth.  The child begins school, and his world experience grows and blooms.  The fourth room is the orange of angry adolescence.  The fifth is white, symbolizing new beginnnings as the adolescent begins his own life as an adult.  A wedding is a new beginning, and the bride traditionally wears white.  After the white room is the violet room, or a return to childlike ways in retirement and old age.  Retired people remember what it is to "play" now that they have earned the right after years of work.  At some point in old age, the person must be cared for much like he had been during his first visit to a purple room in childhood.  The final room (located in the west) is black, symbolizing death.  The clock in this room marks the passage of time, and its chimes can be heard in all the rooms, even in the east. This shows that death is ever present.

amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Each room represents a stage in human life.  The colors begin bright and happy representing innocence and vitality and progressively become more somber to represent the slowing of body performance and function and the aging process.  It is similar to Shakespeare's poem "The Seven Ages of Man" where he describes seven typical roles—infant, schoolboy, lover (adolescent), soldier (young man), justice (middle age), old man, and finally the senile elder near death--for human life.  Colors all have meaning...check the following website to see how blues, greens, yellows, etc. might affect a person's mood and then compare it to the number in sequence to the seven stages of a man's life--does it make sense to you why the room is that color scheme?  How does it fit?


renelane eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are seven chambers in the abbey. Each room is decorated a different color and draped with lush fabrics and plush furniture. Some critics believe each room is meant to represent a decade from his life. The colors he uses for each room therefore would indicate his mental and physical health and attitude. The seventh room is black with red windows and a large clock. This seems to symbolize Prospero's death. Red is symbolic of blood and black for death. This room is in the west end of the house, as well, and the sun sets in the west. The clock could be symbolic of his lifespan. When the clock had stopped, everyone had died.

cookiequeen | Student

Of course as we all know their are seven chambers in the abbey. Ok, well if one dosen't read closely people could easily guess that is has something to do with the seven rooms have the meaning of seven stages of life, such as Stage one- Infancy and early childhood (blue), Stage two- childhood (purple), Stage 3- Adolesence (green), Stage 4- Adulthood (Orange), Stage 5- Mid Life (White), Stage6- The Golden Age (Violet), and last but not least Stage 7- Old Age to death (Black Velvet). Each room representing the seven stages of life by color to furniture to the windows and flooring. But... could those rooms also represent the stages of the plague? Since the story is brought up on the idea when the plague had hit?The seven rooms could represent from when the prince was safe from the red death inside the abby, (the clock ringing rapidly upon each hour to represent that his death can be near as well as everyone else in the abby.) to the red room which represented that the plague had fully hit and killed them all. The seven rooms could have several meanings to them really. Really good ones that can equally fit. That is why poe is so brilliant is his writings.

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The Masque of the Red Death

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