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Episode 25 of 28

The Masque of the Red Death by Edgar Allan Poe

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Classic Ghost Stories by Tony Walker
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The Masque of the Red Death by Edgar Allan PoeThe Masque of the Red Death was published in 1842 by Edgar Allan Poe in Graham’s Magazine. He was paid $12 for it. There is an app on the internet to tell you the value of money today and that calculates $12 in 1842 is worth $482 today. That is £353 Sterling, or £4,236 Scots. Good money in anyone’s book for a 16 minute story.It was made into a film in 1964, starring Vincent Price. As any brief study will tell you, it follows the conventions of Gothic fiction: it’s set in a castle (in fact a castellated abbey so two for the price of one)At the time of the story, Poe’s wife was suffering from tuberculosis and would be coughing blood most likely, and this image may have inspired (if that is a suitable word) the imagery of the story. People have wondered what the actual disease was - bubonic plague or tuberculosis or maybe Ebola virus, but in fact I think it’s most likely he just made it up.There have been many attempts at understanding why there were seven rooms and the meaning of the colours. It may be because he liked the imagery, but of course why did he like the imagery? What subconscious needs and desires do the colours represent. Discuss at your leisure. The story is about how even kings may not escape death, despite their pride and majesty and as such it reminds me of Oxymandias by Shelley and the Dog In Durer’s Etching story we did by Marco Denevi.It’s a very neat story structure. Introduce Red Death, introduce Prospero. He retreats from the world, describe the abbey. Now the Masquerade Ball. Now entry of Death. Now he’s dead. Finish. 16 minutes.What’s with the Ebony Clock? Perhaps counting down like a drum roll to increase suspense? Who knows?If You Appreciate The Work I’ve Put In HereYou could buy me a coffee a Patron you can join my mailing list and get a free audiobook: By The Heartwood Institute***