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The Masque of the Red Death

by Edgar Allan Poe

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What's unique about the room layout in "The Masque of the Red Death"?

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There are a couple of reasons the layout of the rooms is significant in Edgar Allen Poe’s short story “The Masque of the Red Death.”  First of all, the rooms represent the seven deadly sins.  Second of all, the rooms are protected from the outside and are each off of a main corridor.  Finally, the rooms are described as going from east to west.

First, each room is decorated to match one of the seven deadly sins.  The colors of the rooms represent this.

That at the eastern extremity was hung, for example, in blue—and vividly blue were its windows. The second chamber was purple in its ornaments and tapestries, and here the panes were purple. The third was green throughout, and so were the casements. The fourth was furnished and lighted with orange—the fifth with white—the sixth with violet. The seventh apartment was closely shrouded in black velvet tapestries that hung all over the ceiling and down the walls, falling in heavy folds upon a carpet of the same material and hue. (enotes etext p. 4)

Second, the rooms are protected inside a fortress but all come off of one corridor.

The apartments were so irregularly disposed that the vision embraced but little more than one at a time. There was a sharp turn at every twenty or thirty yards, and at each turn a novel effect. To the right and left, in the middle of each wall, a tall and narrow Gothic window looked out upon a closed corridor which pursued the windings of the suite. (enotes etext p. 4)

The rooms are in a haphazard fashion to keep with the macabre, gothic effect.  It is significant that it is a closed corridor.  This contains everyone in one space.  It holds them in, and protects them from what’s outside.

Finally, notice that the rooms present from east to west.  This represents the rising and setting of the sun, and the beginning and end of life.

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