About Edgar Allan Poe's - "The Masque of Red Death"

GRIN Verlag, 20/06/2003 - 23
Seminar paper from the year 2002 in the subject American Studies - Literature, grade: 1,3 (A), Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg (American Studies), course: Edgar Allan Poe, language: English, abstract: The Masque of the Red Death first appeared in May 1842 in Grahams Magazine. It is generally grouped together with three other of Poes stories, namely King Pest, which first appeared in the Southern Literary Messenger in September 1835, The Cask of Amontillado, published in Godeys Magazine and Ladys Book 33 in 1846, and Hop-Frog, published in The Flag of Our Union in 1849. Since all these stories take place dur-ing the carnival season, they are called The Masquerades. In her book The Life and Works of Edgar Allan Poe. A Psycho-Analytic Interpretation, Marie Bonaparte takes a Freudian approach to Poes stories, Sigmund Freud himself wrote the preface, and claims that all the above tales are connected to Poes father com-plex [Bonaparte; 507]. In her interpretation of The Masque of the Red Death, the figure of the Red Death is an incorporation of the father who returns to punish the son. This is just one reading of the story. Much has been published about The Masque of the Red Death, one of Poes most read tales. Scholars have tried to find its roots, like Burton R. Pollin, who assumes that Poe used his own Shadow A Parable as a source for The Masque of the Red Death. Others attempted to compare the story of Prince Prospero and his followers to other great works of art, for example Christopher Brown, who saw parallels between The Masque of the Red Death and Henry Jamess The Portrait of a Lady. A lot of research has also been done on the narrator of the tale I will only elabo-rate on the most plausible theories on who it is that is telling this tale. Equally important, The Masque of the Red Death is said to contain one of the most exact definitions of the grotesque in the literary sense. Finally, as almost all of Poes tales, The Masque of the Red Death, too, contains an in-credible amount of symbolism. Everything from the significance of blood over the impor-tance of the number seven in mysticism to the meaning of colors can be traced in this tale, which must also be read as an allegory and a memento mori.

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