44 pages 1 hour read

Edgar Allan Poe

The Masque of the Red Death

Fiction | Short Story | Adult | Published in 1842

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Literary Devices


An allegory is a fictive work that reveals a hidden meaning about real-world events or beliefs, usually through facets of its structure. For example, the farm animals’ rebellion and Napoleon the pig’s rise to power in George Orwell’s Animal Farm is an allegory for real-world dictatorship. Though this is never mentioned in “The Masque of Red Death,” the progression of events makes the analogy clear: The story is an allegory for our inability to avoid death. This allegory is structured through the symbolism of the setting, which progresses from the innocent and bright colors of day in the first rooms to the dark colors of night and death in the final room, where the clock tolls the hour of everyone’s demise. The direction of the rooms east to west enhances this progression from life to death by analogizing it to the sequence of a single day, sunrise to sunset.


Allusion is a reference to something that is widely known outside the world of the text, such as another text or artwork. In “The Masque of the Red Death,” Poe alludes to Shakespeare’s The Tempest through the name of his