The Masque of the Red Death

This study guide will help you analyze the text “The Masque of the Red Death” by Edgar Allan Poe. We will show you examples of elements in the text that will be relevant for your analysis. In these notes, we will focus on the summary, structure, characters, setting, narrator and point of view, language, theme and message.

Presentation of the text

Title: “The Masque of the Red Death”
Author: Edgar Allan Poe
Published in: “Graham's Magazine”
Date of Publication: 1842
Genre: Short Story

Edgar Allan Poe (1809 – 1849) was an American author of short stories and poems. He is considered one of the founders of mystery/detective fiction. Most of his works fall within the genre of Gothic Romantic fiction, which is characterized by the use of macabre, somber elements in terms of plot, setting and even characters.


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The central theme of the short story “The Masque of the Red Death” by Edgar Allan Poe is the inevitability of death, enhanced by the motif of fear. Another theme the story explores is the nature of reality (or reality versus illusion). The author’s intent with the story is to make people aware that death cannot be escaped. Death and our mortal nature are intrinsic aspects of human existence, something we cannot escape regardless of our wishes and actions. This idea is explored by Edgar Allan Poe in this short story in an extreme context of a devastating plague. Also, everything in the short story is somehow related to death through the use of multiple symbols: blood, the colors red and black, the clock.


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The Masque of the Red Death

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