The Masque of the Red Death
Edgar Allan Poe
Michael Anthony Scott
The test of a true literary masterpiece is its relevance throughout history, enduring because it assaults the core foundations of the human condition. THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH transcends a mere macabre horror fiction but delves into the nature of human beings as it reacts to perennial invasions of a deathly disease. This is a story about the NOW, modern civilization’s reaction to the unavoidable contagions of death, exposing the frailty of human restriction. It’s a story about human arrogance, illustrating the notion that modern civilization thinks it has more control over nature than it in fact has, that wealth and power can avoid disease, and the reliance on the powerful psychological transformation of fear into indulgent festivities as a shield against microscopic invasion. The rich discard the poor, running to private enclaves of safety.
However, the revelry of humanity is an illusion. Nature exhibits “Radical Egalitarianism,” an unwillingness to accept differences in talent, power, money, and aptitude as a mitigating factor to its onslaught. Regardless of the beauty of a metaphorical castle, the luxuriance of the setting, or the strength of will possessed by the enthroned, no mortal can escape the creeping death of contagion.
THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH continues Poe’s macabre Gothic horror fiction style of storytelling. Poe makes every word count, every symbolism explode with a multiplicity of meaning, and as always sets an ominous mood that does not disappoint.
This American poet and writer is best known for his tales of mystery, horror and sheer terror, at least for the Victorian Age of the mid-1800s, which was his early audience.