The Masque of the Red Death Essay

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In Poe's imaginative prose, beginnings unfailingly are important. "The Masque of the Red Death" begins with these three short sentences:

The "Red Death" had long devastated the country. No pestilence had even been so fatal or so hideous. Blood was its Avatar and its seal—the redness and horror of blood.

On one level, the reader is introduced to a disease, a plague, with hideous and terrifying symptoms, a remarkably rapid course, and inevitable termination in death. But Poe's heaviest emphasis is on blood, not as sign or symptom, but as avatar and seal. A seal is something that confirms or assures or ratifies. The appearance—the presence—of blood is confirmation or assurance of the existence of the Red Death or, more broadly, of Death itself. As avatar, blood is the incarnation, the bodily representation, of the Red Death. It is, further, something...

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This section contains 1,905 words
(approx. 5 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy The Masque of the Red Death Study Guide
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The Masque of the Red Death from Gale. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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