Useof Imagery in the mask of the red death by Edgar Allan Poe
EdgarAllen Poe strongly uses imagery in his book to instill a sense offear on the readers. Poe intentionally utilizes these images insteadof actions which could have elicited the same feeling. The first useof imagery is seen where Poe describes the Red death using anin-depth approach. Use of imagery in “themask of the red death”brings out an intended feeling of fear and elicits a strong emotionalappeal among the readers. It also establishes the mood and setting ofthe story by appealing to the human senses of taste, smell, hearing,touch and sight.
Imageryis a stylistic device which entails the use of a group of words toelicit various forms of appeal including smell, hearing, touch, tasteand sight. Use of imagery in any particular literary material ismeant to intensify the effect of a given work on the audience. In“the mask of the red death”, Poe uses a number imagerydescription to create a vivid mental picture on the readers.
Tobegin with, Poe paints a picture of horror by using scary descriptivesceneries and mental pictures. For instance, Poe illustrates the “reddeath” through a vivid description of a large pool of blood whichsignifies death. This title by itself evokes a feeling of fear andutmost disgust among the readers. The mere description of bloodinstills a sense of fear among the readers and creates a ghastlypicture of terror and death. For instance, in one of the passages,Poe uses grisly words to describe the impact of the disease onvictims.
“"Therewere sharp pains, and sudden dizziness, and then profuse bleeding atthe pores, with dissolution. The scarlet stains upon the body andespecially upon the face of the victim were the pest ban which shuthim out from the sympathy of his fellow men." (Poe145)
Inthe above passage, Poe has intentionally used ghastly words to elicitsome sense of touch and sight among its readers. This passage aptlyestablishes the mood of the story and gives meaning to the title ofthe book. It further brings out horror that is associated with thediseases and to some extent explains the reasons why an intrudersuffering from the disease is received with awe.
Anotherperfect example on the use of imagery is the 7throom. Poe describes the 7throom using very terrifying words. The picture he paints of the 7throom produces some significant effect on the reader’s sense oftouch and smell. From the vivid description, one gets an eeriefeeling about being in the 7throom and informs the mood of indifference among the different guests.For instance, Poe states that “Theseventh apartment was closely shrouded in black velvet tapestriesthat hung all over the ceiling and down the walls(Poe 146). Use of the word black velvet evokes a feeling of fear andinforms the readers of what to expect in the rest of the story. The7throom is totally different from the other rooms in terms of gait andoverall appearance. It is described as being heavily dark, being asymbolic representation of death and partly explains why no guestwants to go anywhere near the room. The author informs readers thatthe infamous masque is stored in the 7throom specifically to bring out a feeling of fear and horror whichtypifies rest of the scenes. Overall, Poe achieves his missionthrough elaborate use of imagery in almost all the relevant passagesin the story.
Anotherexample of the use of imagery in the story is seen where Poedescribes the clock. He describes the clock as “big, black, creepclock”. This description captures the attention of readers andprepares them for what to expect in the rest of the story. From thedescription, one can clearly tell that death is imminent and that isin the not so far future. Additionally, the description helps theauthor to create an accurate impression of the effect of the diseaseon a person, as well as the shorter time which the disease takes tokill a person.
Inanother passage, Poe’s description of the swinging action of apendulum serves as a sign of warning for the guests. It is alsoanother way of telling the guests to be ready for death at any time,because the disease was highly lethal. "Itspendulum swung to and fro with a heavy monotonous clang there camefrom the brazen lungs of the clock a sound which was clear and loudand deep and exceedingly musical" (147). Theswinging action of the pendulum signifies death which is broughtabout by the deadly disease. This description also enhances theauthor’s intended message to the readers and serves the purpose ofpainting a picture of a terrifying environment which is dominantfeature of the story.
Fromthe onset of the story, the author has effectively used imagery topaint a gleam picture of the effects of the deadly disease. It is aclear attempt to create a general environment of fear and terrorwhich is associated with pandemic diseases. By using imagery in thestory, Poe achieves several things. First, he lays out the generalfoundation for a more explicit and highly emotive environment whichis associated with the deadly disease. In most cases, authors useimagery to set out the scene and prepare the readers for what toexpect in terms of theme development, as well as character formation.This further helps create several effects in a work of art andenables the author to make his statement in a more elaborate manner.Poe also captures the attention of readers through imagerydescription of objects. For instance, his description of oozing bloodgives readers a clue of the effects of the deadly disease. Thedescription also helps the author to develop his story in a moreelaborate and concrete way and in turn makes the story interestingfor reading.
Secondly,Poe heavily utilizes imagery in his writing to set enhance theoverall tone of the story. Use of scary descriptions for thedifferent items and aspects creates an environment of terror andenables the author to effectively put across his intended themes in aclearer manner. Additionally, there is no any other effective waythrough the author could have of fully developed his main themeswithout the use of imagery. In essence, Poe’s utilization ofimagery makes the story more appealing to the different human sensesof touch, taste, hearing, and sight. Further, it facilitates thebeautiful transition of the different scenes.
Poe,Edgar A. TheMasque of the Red Death: [and Other Stories].Logan, Iowa: Perfection Form Co, 1980. Print.