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Symbolism in The Masque of the Red Death

Symbolism in The Masque of the Red Death

Author: Aaron Marvel

By the end of this lesson students will be able to recognize symbolism and determine how it contributes to the success of the plot. 

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What is symbolism in literature?

The following video thoroughly explains the use of symbolism of in literature and how it enriches meaning for the reader. Take notes (at least a page) as you watch the video and bring them to our next class meeting.


Before Reading

The following pictures depict some of the symbolic elements in "The Masque of the Red Death".  At first site, what do you think the objects could symbolize? 



While Reading

"The Masque of the Red Death" is, once again, written by Edgar Allen Poe. Poe's stories are almost always characterized by somber and disturbing images that conjure fear and suspense in the reader. As you read through the story pay special attention to the use of colors. Yes, colors can be symbolic also. While you are reading keep a list of what you think may be symbolic in the story along with what you think it may symbolize.

1. Apple pie -- american culture, wholesomeness

2. Brick wall -- barrier, obstacle

Click here to access the text.

After Reading

Reading Check (bring answers to these to class)

  1. Why has Prince Prospero locked himself and his guests in his castle?
  2. How do the partygoers and musicians react when the clock strikes?
  3. Who draws the attention of the revelers?
  4. How does Prince Prospero react to the stranger?

Discussion question (Post in the "Question and Answer" section below)

Consider the outcome of the Prince’s decision to hold a ball while his country was in jeopardy.  What theme do you think the story conveys?