Edgar Allen Poe was a popular author of gothic literature. Gothic Literature is a genre of writing that is dark or strange. There are eight elements of gothic literature. There has to be at least one of the eight elements for a piece of writing to be considered gothic. In “The Masque of the Red Death” three of the elements are a tyrannical male, a metonymy of gloom and horror, and supernatural elements. The first element used was a tyrannical male. All throughout Prince Prospero’s kingdom, his people are dying from a horrible plague known as “The Red Death”. Around every corner, people are dying or already dead, covered in the infamous scarlet red blood that is the most obvious sign of the red death, and all the prince could do was sit in his castle and watch his people die. “When his dominions were half depopulated, he summoned the presence of a thousand hale and lighthearted friends from among the knights and dames of his court, and with these retired to the deep seclusion of one of his castellated abbeys.” pr. 2 While the people of his kingdom were well on their way to all dying of the red death, Prince Prospero locked himself and his other royal friends in his castle, away from the horrible red death. Prince Prospero abandoned his people in their time of need, making him a tyrannical male.
A metonymy of gloom and horror is the second element used in the story. Every hour on the hour, a large, ebony clock chimes, stopping the party and filling the guests with an unexplained uneasiness. “-and there was a breif disconcert of the whole gay companyl; and, while the chimes of the clock yet rang, it was observed that the giddiest grew pale, and the more aged and sedate passed their hands over their brows as if in confused reverie or meditation.” pr. 4 With every hour that passed, and every chime of the clock, the party was filled with a terror that no one understood. The ringing of the large, ebony clock is used as a symbol of the time that guests have left before the end of the day- and the time they have left before death finds them. “The Masque of the Red Death” contains many supernatural elements. As it drew closer to midnight, a mysterious figure appeared in the crowd. No one had seen this guest before and they were all quite alarmed by his sudden arrival. “Then, summoning the wild courage of despair, a throng of the revelers at opne threw themselves into the black apartment, and, seizing the mummer, whose tall figure stood erect and motionless within the shadow of the ebony clock, gasped in unutterable horror at finding the grave cerements and corpselike mask which they handled with so violent a rudeness, untenanted by any tangible form.” pr. 11 As the guests attempted to capture the stranger, they realize that the clothing and mask are being worn by no human or object, and the red death had slipped it’s way into the castle.
DeathThere is no reasonable explaination for the mysterious figure that walked through the party and then just disappeared like an eerie mist, leaving the reader to assume that it was supernatural. There are many elements of gothic literature in “The Masque of the Red Death”. The three elements mentioned before are a tyrannical male, a metonymy of gloom and horror and supernatural elements. The tyrannical male, Prince Prospero, deserted the people of his kingdom when they needed him the most. The ebony clock that chimed every hour, on the hour, symbolized how much time the guests had left. The mysterious, disappearing figure entered and exited the party like a phantom. “The Masque of the Red Death” is an excellent example of gothic literature and the elements of gothic literature.