To begin I would like to state that this is the first time I have had the experience of reading Poe and as such the reading process was greatly intriguing. The short story I chose was the Masque of the Red Death, which I found to be very dark and vile. From the beginning of the story to the end I found great concentration on the issues of life and death, among other things, which made the story very dynamic for its size. Another point of interest I found in the story was Poe's concentration on historical accuracy as he successfully attempts to illustrate the feudal system at its best.
However, two aspects of Poe's writing that I did not exactly enjoy was the use of obscure words and seemingly long sentence which can some times take away from the flow of the story but overall it was enjoyable. In this short story Poe successfully illustrates matters of life and death specifically through imagery and projection of morals through diction and mood. This is important to make note of because Poe provides very vivid and precise images pertaining to the message he is trying to convey. The concentration on colour is the most prominent element throughout the story.
The use of the colored chambers was greatly effective in delivering its massage of night and day. However, while the implicit theme of the coloured chambers are in fact night and day it again relates back to the more larger theme life and death and the rooms symbolize that progression through life, starting with birth (the blue room) and ending with death (the black room with scarlet windows). Another aspect of imagery pertaining to life and death was the illustration of the unnamed guest. This is important to recognize because it provides the reader with the image that death is a hideous thing as Poe illustrates the figure as having a masque with an uncanny resemblance to a "stiffened corpse" and is described as having dressed in clothes of the dead. This figure within the story is extremely dark and in the case of Prospero and his loyal subject frightening. Clearly Poe did this on purpose as it again relates back to morality and mortality and I believe the messages that were supposed to be delivered through this dark figure are; you cannot escape death no matter how "prosperous" one may be and death will strike in its worst form should you choose to disregard those whom you assume responsibility over.
One element of the story pertaining to character was Prosperous ignorance to his kingdom which in turn results in the focus mood. It seems that throughout the ball the king does absolutely everything he can to cloud the consciences of both himself and his fellow aristocratic companions. However he never really fully achieves that level of ignorance as Poe forebodes it, be it through the chime of clock or the presence of the unwelcome guest. What this ultimately means is that again is that none one, regardless of social standing, can just forget about death.
The last note worthy point I will make is Poe use of diction which essentially ties in with the use of imagery. What this element of style does for his short story is that when a writer scatters words around such as "grave-cerements" and "scarlet stains", words pertaining to death, it gives the story a very dark, very gothic feel which achieved marvelously. Reference: X. J. Kennedy, Dana Gilda, story written by Edgar Allan Poe. An introduction to Fiction: "The Masque of the Red Death" (Pp.
386-390). New York: Pearson Longman, 2005.