Miscellaneous Works:解説・評論・講義:The Masque and/or the Red Death

The Masque and/or the Red Death: 
A Deconstructive Reading

Takayuki Tatsumi

Studies in American Literature 20 (1984): 1-18


In spite of its overwhelming fascination, "The Masque of the Red Death" (1842), one of Poe's most mystifying as well as of his most striking tales, has long been denied full interpretation. For one thing, critics have been too rigid in investigating the significance of "the Red Death" to notice that of the "Masque." Indeed "the Red Death" is the heaviest thread in the tale spun out of his two earlier works, "King Pest" (1835) and "Shadow―A Parable" (1835), but it most probably is the "Masque" that makes a knot in the text, deconstructing allegory. I propose to reread the textile form of "The Masque of the Red Death" from this viewpoint.


Let us start with a brief summary of the critical trends hitherto concerning the tale.

First, the source researches made by Killis Campbell, Burton Pollin, and Walter Evans, tracing the literary influences on it of G.G. Byron, Mary Shelley, Victor Hugo, and W.H. Ainsworth.[1] Second, the psychological approaches attempted by Marie Bonaparte, J.W. Krutch and others, making the most of the achievements of depth psychology, patholographical analysis, and myth criticism.[2] Third, the moral-philosophical considerations done by A.H. Quinn, Patrick Quinn, Susan Solomont and Ritchie Darling, proposing that it is a tale with the allegory of "memento mori" in it.[3] There are some variations in the last of these trends: Julian Symons, opposing Richard Wilbur, tries to develop such a reading, Stuart Levine reconsiders the allegory in terms of the author's technique, and J. P. Poppolo interconnects the tale with Eureka so as to construe it as "a kind of mythic parable (…) of the human condition, of man's fate, and of the fate of the universe."[4]

In traversing these trends of criticism we notice their failure in resolving the problem of the relation either between Poe and Romanticism or between "The Masque of the Red Death" and his other works, notably, tales of the same subgenre. Poe tends to be categorized into the school of Romanticism because of the literary ambience of those days, but if we try to place the tale in question in the Romantic context, one of whose most general motifs is "Masque" aptly allegorizing the theme of double (Doppelgänger), it always transgresses the context, deceiving us. There are admittedly some cases in which Poe can be regarded, despite the author's ultimate theory, as Edward Davidson suggests, as an allegorist unless the Romantic viewpoint is unavailable.[5] Nevertheless, in so far as the tale is concerned, this way of explication will still leave something to be disclosed. In short, it is a kind of tale which, beginning by alluring the reader to a Romantic allegory, betrays him in the long run.

To illustrate our point, let us examine the development of the motif of "Masque" with Poe as it is perceived in two preceding tales, "William Wilson" (1838) and "The Man of the Crowd" (1840).

"William Wilson" is so dyed autobiographically that the original motif of "Masque" can be supposed to have a close and natural relation with Poe in person. Thus this tale may well be defined as the archetype of this subgenre. Its archetypal achievements are apparent: the motif "Masque" activated by the situation "masquerade" which undoubtedly prepares the way for the posterior double meaning of the word "Masque" as noticed by a lot of critics which at once signifies double (Doppelgänger) and masquerade itself, and the dualistic pattern of pursuer and pursued, that is, the moralistic conflict between good and evil, the root of which is planted not so much in the simple Biblical myth as in the Biblical myth deconstructed by the Romantic myth which deals as its subject with the more radical and existential morality, in other words, the tragic vision regained in those days.[6] Hence we cannot utterly deny morality to this tale whose allegory is paradoxically more striking than its source, an unfinished drama of Byron's.[7]

Accordingly, it is natural that in treating the same motif as he used in "William Wilson" the author should try to deconstruct the idea of morality on account of its inconsistency with his literary vision. "The Man of the Crowd," the second stage of the "Masque" motif, fittingly witnesses the transition. To begin with, we must adduce the reason why this tale, in spite of the utter absence of the word "masque," may be classified as a "Masque" tale. For one thing, here we find repeated the dualistic (Doppelgänger) pattern of pursuer and pursued; for another, as Ray Mazurek points out, "crowds in Poe are often depicted as masked,"[8] so that we can interpret the narrator's pursuit of an old man in the crowded city as attendance at a modern kind of masquerade. Then, how about the allegory which was traced in the preceding "Masque" tale? The concluding passages will be of great help: "'This old man,' I said at length, 'is the type and the genius of deep crime. He refuses to be alone. He is the man of the crowd. It will be in vain to follow; for I shall learn no more of him, nor of his deeds. The worst heart of the world is a grosser book than the 'Hortulus Animae,' and perhaps it is but one of the great mercies of God that 'erlasst sich nicht lesen.'" (M, I, 515).[9] It goes without saying that the expression "deep crime" has much to do with the moral sense shown in "William Wilson" because it also refers to the morality of the Romantic myth which is more radical and existential than that of the Biblical myth. But the moment some allegory is about to be communicated to us the narrator recalls the following comment upon a German book: "It does not permit itself to be read" (M, II, 506. Poe's translation). This remark, appearing at the beginning and again at the end of the tale, functions as its framework, after all obscures what might have presented itself as an allegory. As Mabbott has it, Poe certainly means by it that "the book was too shocking for a reader to peruse it completely" (M, II, 518). We may as well conclude that whereas in "William Wilson" he clearly introduces an allegory which is readable, in "The Man of the Crowd" he, constructing something like an allegory, finally makes it unreadable. Now allegory begins to obscure, deceive, and deconstruct itself.

"The Masque of the Red Death," therefore, can be considered as a tale which, coming after the above two, succeeds at last in a thorough deconstruction of allegory: idea/meaning is invaded by form/function. Poe's literary approach is innately formalist/structuralist in that he prefers chemical combination, which is parodic and mechanic, to pure imagination, which is original and organic.[10] No matter how plagiaristic the result may seem, his is a method by which he objectifies anything around him in terms of relativism and decodes it in various ways. What should be remembered here is that the revolutionary movement in Poe from idea/meaning to form/function, organism to mechanism, theme to technique, and subjectivism to relativism inevitably introduces a movement from Romanticism to Postromanticism. And this movement is ultimately due to the American myth in which especially the myth of confidence man played a major role in deconstructing over again the Biblical myth already deconstructed by the Romantic myth. The confidence man is a kind of man who, like the serpent in paradise which is his archetype, has made his living by fictionalizing things. Consequently, we may regard the confidence man as the first to recognize and make the most of the concept of difference (e.g., fact and fiction), in other words, to deconstruct. John Blair and Gary Lindberg have investigated the reason why the New World wherein innocence and experience are interchangeable comes to terms with the concept of confidence man, the term itself being native to America.[11] The American nation from the beginning has embodied not merely the myth of American Adam but also that of confidence man, the modern trickster, whose experience (knowledge, technique, or pragmatism) has contributed largely to build up their national character. So it is only natural that Poe, who must have been influenced by the native myth, should consider fiction not as a mere vessel for one's romantic emotion but as a vessel to be used practically, that is, a literary form. "The Masque of the Red Death," in which we accidentally find a likeness of confidence man, will be constructed as a quite natural product of the author's literary vision which, deconstructing the allegorical, transgresses Romanticism. Then, how does it work?


The story begins with the explanation of a plague known as the "Red Death" which has long devastated the country. The Prince Prospero, escaping from the waste land, retires with "a thousand hale and light-hearted friends" of his to a secluded abbey which was carefully constructed as a kind of utopia, "the creation of his own eccentric yet august taste" (M, II, 670). Particularly remarkable in the abbey is the interior decoration of the masquerade rooms wherein an imperial suite is disposed in a spirally winding form, consisiting of seven rooms painted in different colors, of which only the seventh has a gigantic clock of ebony in it whose chimes ring in a very solemn and menacing tone. After five or six months Prospero holds there a gorgeous masquerade at once arabesque and grotesque during which some attendants notice a mysterious intruder whose blood-be-sprinkled shroud and mask remind them of the "Red Death." The prince runs him down in the seventh room only to be ironically killed. His followers, then, successfully catch hold of the intruder, but are greatly surprised at finding the shroud and the mask "untenanted by any tangible form" (M, II, 676), and soon the Red Death begins devastating the abbey.

This mere summarization leads us to suspect the substructure of the Biblical myth, especially the patterns of Paradise Lost and Doomsday, deconstructed by Poe's modern aesthetics. We have, therefore, only to measure the dynamic differentiation. For example, Prospero's abbey, the artificial paradise of his own, can be explicated as analogous to the author's later stories of Landscape Garden in which, as in "The Domain of Arnheim" (1847) above all, the artist being exalted to the rank of the angel that hovers "between man and God" (M, III, 1276) does create a paradise in the modern sense, fully displaying what Allen Tate calls the "angelic imagination."[12] Here we are shown a case of Deification as the result of Incarnation deconstructed in modern history, and Ellison is the Prince Prospero reborn.[13] On the other hand, the "dénouement," in which the moment the mysterious intruder was caught and deprived of the mask the world was condemned to catastrophe by the "Red Death," should be conceived as related not simply to the taboo-violation in the myth of Paradise Lost but to the Apocalyptic end of the world in the Book of Revelation. Now we are easily tempted to the typological dialectics of type and antitype.[14]

Poe is in his element notwithstanding, as mentioned above, when he, constructing a near allegory based upon Puritan rhetoric, whether on purpose or not, deconstructs it with his unique aesthetics particularly in terms of color and sound effects; in his literary vision allegory is deconstructed by means of "effect."

First, the color effects. The seven rooms of different colors are described as follows:
To the rigid and left, in the middle of each wall, a tall and narrow Gothic window looked out upon a closed corridor which pursued the windings of the suite. These windows were of stained glass whose color varied in accordance with the prevailing hue of the decorations of the chamber into which it opened. That at the eastern extremity was hung, for example, in blue―and vividly blue were its windows. The second chamber was purple in its ornaments and tapestries, and here the panes were purple. The third was green throughout, and so were the casements. The fourth was furnished and lighted with orange―the fifth with white―the sixth with violet. The seventh apartment was closely shrouded in black velvet tapestries that hung all over the ceiling and down the walls, falling in heavy folds upon a carpet of the same material and hue. But in this chamber only, the color of the windows failed to correspond with the decorations. The panes here were scarlet―a deep blood color. (M, II, 671-672)
Of course the very concept of seven rooms seems to have much to do with the seven ages of man as enumerated by Shakespeare in As You Like It, or, more obviously, with the Biblical eschatology.[15] And yet, though Poe himself might have been keenly aware of the allegorical connotation of the number seven, we must not miss the fact that it is only colors that he emphasizes here by the mystic number. In especial, the effective design of the seventh chamber where, unlike the other chambers, "the color of the windows failed to correspond with the decorations" is consistent with the following proposition of Francis Bacon which Poe quotes time and again as forming his own aesthetic belief: "There is no exquisite beauty without some strangeness in the proportions."[16] Here is the allegorical seven completely repainted in effective differences.

Second, the sound effects. It is not difficult to recognize in the tale the chemical combination of the chimes of the clock with the music of a waltz:
     It was in this apartment, also, that there stood against the western wall, a gigantic clock of ebony. Its pendulum swung to and fro with a dull, heavy, monotonous clang; and when the minute-hand made the circuit of the face, and the hour was to be stricken, there came from the brazen lungs of the clock a sound which was clear and loud and deep and exceedingly musical, but of so peculiar a note and emphasis that, at each lapse of an hour, the musicians of the orchestra were constrained to pause, momentarily, in their performance, to harken to the sound; and thus the waltzers perforce ceased their evolutions; and there was a brief disconcert of the whole gay company; 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 revery or meditation. (M, II, 672-673)
As for the waltz being played which the author later calls "the wild music of the orchestra" (M, II, 673), Pollin locates its source in Von Weber's waltz referred to in Mary Shelley's story The Last Man (1826), which Poe must have read, whose central motif is no other than the apocalyptic end of the world. [17] The author's originality, however, lies in his artistic ability to chemically combine the wild waltz with the chimes of the clock which arouse a radical fear in man, that is, the tragic vision; he succeeds in deconstructing the allegorical difference between the Biblical and the tragic, turning it into psychological aesthetics whose strategy is based upon value-exchanging effect.[18] Furthermore, Poe exalts the effect by juxtaposing the wild waltz and the chimes of the clock with the masqueraders arabesque and grotesque inspired by Hugo's Hernani (1830):
There were delirious fancies such as the madman fashions. There were much of the beautiful, much of the wanton, much of the bizarre, something of the terrible, and not a little of that which might have excited disgust. To and fro in the seven chambers there stalked, in fact, a multitude of dreams. And these―the dreams―writhed in and about, taking hue from the rooms, and causing the wild music of the orchestra to seem as the echo of their steps. And, anon, there strikes the ebony clock which stands in the hall of the velvet. And then, for a moment, all is still, and all is silent save the voice of the clock. The dreams are stiff-frozen as they stand. But the echoes of the chime die away―they have endured but an instant―and a light, half-subdued laughter floats after them as they depart. And now again the music swells, and the dreams live, and writhe to and fro more merrily than ever, taking hue from the many tinted windows through which stream the rays from the tripods. (M, II, 673-674)
Now the sound effects are brilliantly intermingled with the color effects. We have only to enjoy those effects simply as they move us, without bothering to read any kind of allegory into the expressions. Once filtered through Poe's fictional sense the Biblical spatiotemporal structure must be deconstructed in terms of the artistic spatiotemporal structure.

For what, then, did Poe have to deconstruct allegorical significations? After all, we can regard the act as culminating in the deconstruction of "Masque" itself. While "William Wilson" and "The Man of the Crowd," the two preceding stories which are reminiscent of the double meaning of "Masque," leave it in static semantics, "The Masque of the Red Death" claims not only the double meaning but a highly dynamic deconstruction. Certainly we may perceive simple semiotics in the mask of the mysterious intruder, which, as the title seems to indicate, combines and interconnects the twin senses (Doppelgänger  and masquerade) more ingeniously than in the two other stories. But remember the author's formalistic tendency with which he deconstructed Romanticism. The tale in question, too, should be read primarily in terms of literary, or more precisely, dramatic from, that is, as a masque. Consequently, "Masque" as a literary form (drama) is sure to deconstruct "Masque" as a literary theme fortified by its double meaning.

Source research will be of great help in demonstrating this proposition. Poe's critics have often referred to The Tempest (1611-1612) but this last play of Shakespeare is not yet fully investigated in relation to "The Masque of the Red Death."[19] It is significant that the prince is named after the protagonist of The Tempest and that the play, written in the form of Romantic Comedy, was one of those masques performed during the theatrical season of 1612-1613 in honor of the Princess Elizabeth.

According to Northrop Frye, who deals with The Tempest as a case study in his essay "Romance as Masque," the formal characteristics of the masque can be summarized as follows. First, "in the masque the organizing principle is that of polarity, the contrast between the two orders symbolized by the two parts into which it was divided, the antimasque and the masque proper.[20] The former depicts the grotesque, ribald, or socially substandard while the latter does the royal, allegorical, or Classical.[21] The whole masque is so constructed upon the basis of its structural dynamics that the original form of the masque itself can be construed as necessitating the deconstruction of allegory. Of course in The Tempest, the masque of Prospero's vision, we easily recognize the antimasque-inside-masque played by the spirits. In the case of "The Masque of the Red Death" we may interpret the story itself as a masque, as suggested by the title, and the masquerade within the tale as an antimasque. Second, a masque is, therefore, transient. Frye, comparing with masque to a miniature World Fair, "where a whole city is set up and torn down," defines it as "an enormously expansive and variegated performance which glittered for a night and disappeared": the masque suggests "the imagery of magic or summoned-up illusion."[22] Though their endings can be either optimistic or pessimistic, the concept of transience is indeed true of the unimpeded vision that The Tempest and "The Masque of the Red Death" have in common. Third, what is most important is that in a masque is reflected what Arthur Lovejoy calls "the Great Chain of Being," the Christian cosmogony deconstructed/reconstructed by the modern spirit since the Renaissance. Especially in the Jacobean age the cosmology came to be conceived as intermingling the sacred with the secular authority with the result that even the masque was deeply influenced by such a mode of analogy. Accordingly, it is not strange that the deconstructive dynamics both of the masque and the antimasque implies the rising and descending movements within the Great Chain of Being from chaos to cosmos, from unorganized to new life and vice versa. [23] The repetition of masque and antimasque results sooner or later in the difference metamorphic, a kind of apocalyptic moment, as is clearly realized in the works in question of Shakespeare and Poe.[24]

If we reexamine from the above standpoint The Tempest and "The Masque of the Red Death," we notice in both works the strict observance of the three unities, the protagonist's absolute command of the artistic universe in the first half almost like the author's, and his recognition of artistic transience in the dénouement through the dynamics of the masque overwhelming his angelic imagination. The artistic form gradually deconstructs the artist himself. And if, in the strictest sense of the word, Poe's is not a masque as Shakespeare's is, but a masque in the form of fiction, "The Masque of the Red Death" can be considered as a work in which literary forms are the central concern and the very form of the masque itself is deconstructed. It is the pseudomasque for deconstructing the masque; a literary machine which, like a centrifugal separator, ultimately consumes whatever significations the word "Masque" introduces. But as repulsion is necessarily followed by attraction in Eureka, so the centrifugal is followed by the centripetal force; consumption by reproduction. Thus what we have to do next is to reap the fruit yielded by this deconstruction.


My proposition is that what is reconstructed after the deconstruction of "Masque" is paradoxically no other than the word "Masque" itself―"Masque" which does function as a signifier, "absolute unity" as Poe might call it, not simply attracting and repulsing a diversity of signifieds but dynamically revivifying them. Poe was much more interested and versed in the effect, more exactly, the musical effect of words. A casual glance at Baudelaire or Mallarmé, both of whom adore him as their common master, will show that Poe's greatest pleasure and literary raison d'être as an earlier formalist lie in the playing with words in their purest state. His obsession with words is akin to a religious faith, as suggested in Marginalia (Graham's Magazine, March, 1846):
     Now, so entire is my faith in the power of words, that, at times, I have believed it possible to embody even the evanescence of fancies such as I have attempted to describe. (H, XVI, 89)
Keeping in view this confession of faith in words, we can fully understand the reason why he was driven to write an essay on metalanguage entitled "A Few Words on Secret Writing" (1841), some detective stories as its embodiment, and, above all, an occult fantasy called "The Power of Words" (1845). Therefore, though the phrase "art for art's sake" is generally assumed to be a key word for Poe, it has, as a matter of fact, been sublimed into "language for language's sake" and/or "language about language," the Poesque equivalent of "literature for literature's sake" and/or "literature about literature," in a modern term, "metaliterature."[25] As a consequence, he prefers effect to allegory, form to theme, sound to thought, function to meaning, and signifier to signified. Our key word "Masque," too, should be reconsidered from this viewpoint, that is, as a signifier, because Poe is supposed to have loved the word to the extent that its linguistic sense both visual and auditory is effective.[26]

The "Masque" placed in the Romantic context will be easily entrapped by signifieds, as already suggested when dealing with "William Wilson." "The Man of the Crowd" is a tale which, repressing and concealing the word "Masque" under the surface, attempts to leave behind the signifieds with result more advanced though still insufficient that the signifier of absence and the signified of presence are ironically allowed to coexist. Poe's next "Masque" tale, therefore, necessarily underscores the ultimate priority of signifier by setting up a literary device in the title itself. "The Masque of the Red Death" is a title not be explicated so easily as it appears at first sight. Never does Poe describe the mysterious intruder literally as "the Masque of the Red Death," the allegedly aptest referent to the title, but always differently as "a masked figure" "this new presence" (M, II, 674), "the figure in question," "the stranger, " "this spectral image" (M, II, 675), or "the intruder" (M, II, 676).[27] Even in the most associative case the author states that "the mummer had gone so far as to assume the type of the Red Death" (M, II, 675). Thus we may well construe these various descriptions of one and the same character as a spectrum of différance, the deconstructive process of repetition and difference, brought out by one and the same signifier named "Masque."

To sum up, if it is possible to read in him any semiotics, the masked figure should be throughly identified with the word "Masque" itself, more correctly, the différance of the word "Masque" itself, and not with the allegorical double meaning or, needless to say, with the Red Death, which was sought for in vain by the Romantics including Prince Prospero as the typical reader of those days who wanted to determine any meaning in fiction. This is how the deconstruction of the mere Romantic reading took place.

For a deeper investigation of the reason we may as well turn back again to the Shakespearean masque. Prospero and Caliban in The Tempest represent the King-Fool relation peculiar to the masque as a dramatic form. On the other hand, though surely influenced by the former, "The Masque of the Red Death" opens without the fool who should be dynamically related with the Prince (King) Prospero. Even considering the form of fiction, the tale in its first half does not satisfy the necessary condition of the masque. As a result, Prospero's pursuit of the masked stranger proves to be a quest after the fool, his partner, in whom he tries to search for his own raison d'être as a masque actor which is the greatest signified he has to catch. This is true of other revellers who followed the figure in company with the Prince. However, what the characters in search of their raison d'être came to discover inside him was only nothingness:
There was a sharp cry―and the dagger dropped gleaming upon the sable carpet, upon which, instantly afterwards, fell prostrate in death the Prince Prospero. Then, summoning the wild courage of despair, a throng of the revellers at once threw themselves into the black apartment, and, seizing the murmmer, whose tall figure stood erect and motionless within the shadow of the ebony clock, gasped in unutterable horror at finding the grave cerements and corpse-like mask which they handled with so violent a rudeness, untenanted by any tangible form. (M, II, 676)
This testifies to the fact that the "Masque" in the tale does function as a signifier, a form-deconstructing form. It dynamically sideslips through signifieds and develops into a symbol which will sublimate all of them.[28] Consequently, "The Masque of the Red Death" is a masque-deceiving masque, what may be called "metamasque," with no meaningful norm upon which the raison d'être of the conventional masque  or masque actor must have been based. Now we witness the birth of masque for masque's sake and/or masque about masque which, after deconstructing its own genre, goes so far as to tend, even deceiving the form of fiction, towards poetry, as is agreed by some critics.[29]

After these considerations, we may now regard the Prince Prospero as protagonist of a farce; his adversary has proved to be no more than a play of words, a kind of joke. Nay, strictly speaking, no sooner had Prospero challenged the masked figure to a fight than their roles got entirely reversed: the former becomes fool, the latter king. Here we are reminded of the curse uttered by Caliban to Prospero in The Tempest:
"You taught me language; and my profit on't
Is, I know how to curse. The red plague rid you
For learning me your language!" (I. ii. 363-365)
It must have been this curse that Poe attempted to embody in this tale driven by his instinct for parodying.[30]

Therefore, in so fat as it is a "Masque" as a signifier, the joker as a word play, that could win a victory in the fight, "The Masque of the Red Death" must be guaranteed a generic category―comedy. And yet, it is also certain that it is, if any, a kind of laughter excited by the death of the Romantic Prince Prospero, and not the kind of laughter roused by s Shakespearean Romantic Comedy. If we reconsider the colors of the seventh room and its windows, the laughter will be at once understood as black laugher created by the Red Death, a sort of absurd laugher of our age. This is the greatest effect Poe has achieved in the tale. And this is the ultimate reason why the tale must have been deconstructed as a Romantic Comedy, one of the most conventional forms of masque, so as to be reconstructed as a Black Comedy, one of Modernistic, or even Postmodernistic, forms of comedy. Hence it is not by accident that after seven years Poe's final "Masque" tale "Hop-Frog" (1849) fully satisfies those literary conditions required for a Black Comedy.


In conclusion, it is only through the death-defying fight between the Prince Prospero and the masked stranger that "Masque" as a signifier makes a knot in the text. This is a knot which is capable of linking together the text of Prospero's abbey and that of the Red Death, fusing them into intertextuality. Now the nothingness within the masked stranger intermingles with the nothingness brought about by the catastrophe of a utopia. We should bear in mind, however, that Poe's is that eschatological nothingness which, as a paradoxical equivalent of unity, assumes metamorphosis or resurrection:
(. . .) when, I say, Matter, finally, expelling the Ether, shall have returned into absolute unity,―it will then (to speak paradoxically for the moment) be Matter without Attraction and without Repulsion―in other words, matter without Matter―in other words, again, Matter no more. In sinking into Unity, it will sink at once into that Nothingness which, to all Finite Perception, Unity must be―into that Material Nihility from which alone we can conceive it to have been evoked―to have been created by the Volition of God. (Eureka, H, XVI, 310-311)
Here it will be easily agreed that such an apocalyptic vision was effective also in literary terms, particularly when Poe, deconstructing allegory, even Romanticism, anticipates a far more modern movement, Symbolism.

(The Japanese version of this paper was read at the monthly meeting of the Tokyo branch of the American Literature Society of Japan, September 25, 1982.)


[1] Killis Campbell, The Mind of Poe and Other Essays (New York: Russell & Russell, 1933), 171; Burton Pollin, Discoveries in Poe (Notre Dame: Notre Dame U.P., 1970), 1-7 and 75-90; Walter Evans, "Poe's 'The Masque of the Red Death' and Hawthorne's 'the Wedding Knell'," Poe Studies, Vol. 10, No. 2 (December 1977), 42-43.

[2] Marie Bonaparte, Edgar Allan Poe: A Psycho-Analytic Interpretation (London: Imago, 1949), 514-521; J.W. Krutch, Edgar Allan Poe: A Study in Genius (New York: A.A. Knopf, 1926), 77.

[3] A.H. Quinn, Edgar Allan Poe: A Critical Biography (New York: Cooper Square, 1969), 331; Patrick Quinn, The French Face of Edgar Allan Poe (Carbondale: Southern Illinois U.P., 1954), 115; Susan Solomont and Ritchie Darling, Four Stories by Poe (Norwich: Green Knight, 1965), 8-10.

[4] Richard Wilbur, "The House of Poe" in Poe: A Collection of Critical Essays, ed. Robert Regan (Englewood Cliffs: Printice Hall, 1967), 118-120; Julian Symons, The Tell-Tale Heart: The Life and Works of Edgar Allan Poe (New York: Harper & Row, 1978), 233-235; Stuart Levine, Edgar Allan Poe: Seer and Craftsman (Deland: Everett/Edwards, 1972), 197-203; J.P. Poppolo, "Meaning and 'The Masque of the Red Death'" in Regan, 144.

[5] Edward Davidson, Poe: A Critical Study (Cambridge: Belknap/Harvard, 1957), v-x and 181-222.

[6] Harry Levin states: "(. . .) though Poe's resurrections prove ineffectual or woefully incomplete, we are reminded by the Existentialists that the basis of man's plight is absurdity. Poe's cult of blackness is not horripilation for horripilation's sake; it is a bold attempt to face the true darkness in its most tangible manifestations" (The Power of Blackness: Hawthorne, Poe, Melville, New York: A.K. Knopf, 1958, 163). Cf. Dan Vogel, The Three Masks of American Tragedy (Baton Rouge: Louisiana U.P., 1974), 13-14; J.D. Wilson, The Romantic Heroic Ideal (Baton Rouge: Louisiana U.P., 1982), 17-19 and 135.

[7] M.II, 422-425.

[8] Ray Mazurek, "Art, Ambiguity, and the Artist in Poe's 'The Man of the Crowd'," Poe Studies, Vol. 12, No. 2 (December 1979), 26.

[9] Unless otherwise specified, all parenthetical references are to either The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe, ed. J.A. Harrison (17 vols.; 1902; rpr., New York: AMS, 1965); or Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe, ed. T.O. Mabbott (6 vols. projected; Cambridge: Belknap/Harvard, 1969-). The former is indicated as "H," and the latter as "M."

[10] Robert Jocobs, Poe: Journalist and Critic (Baton Rouge: Louisiana U.P., 1969), 59 and 145; Levine, xv and 4; G.R. Thompson, Poe's Fiction: Romantic Irony in the Gothic Tales (Madison: Wisconsin U.P., 1973), 6 and 163-164.

[11] John Blair, The Confidence Man in Modern Fiction (London: Vision, 1979), 15 and 29-31; Gary Lindberg, The Confidence Man in American Literature (New York: Oxford U.P., 1982), 4-6.

[12] Allen Tate, "The Angelic Imagination" in The Recognition of Edgar Allan Poe, ed. Eric Carlson (Michigan: Michigan U.P., 1970), 251.

[13] As for the relationship between "The Masque of the Red Death" and "The Domain of Arnheim" or the "Landscape Garden" stories, see Thompson, 123-125 and 229, n.11.

[14] Cf. Frank Kermode, The Classic: Literary Images of Permanence and Change (London: Faber & Faber, 1975), 81-114; Sacvan Bercovitch, The American Jeremiad (Madison: Wisconsin U.P., 1978), 40-44; G.G. Harpham, On the Grotesque: Strategies of Contradiction in Art and Literature (Princeton: Princeton U.P., 1982), 120-121.

[15] John May, Toward A New Earth: Apocalypse in the American Novel (Notre Dame: Notre Dame U.P., 1972), 38. Also see M, II, 677, n.3 and Levine, 199-200.

[16] Bacon (Essays, No. 43, "Of Beauty") said: "There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proposition." Where Bacon has "excellent," Poe always writes "exquisite."

[17] Pollin, 83-86.

[18] Cf. Susan Sontag, Against Interpretation (New York: Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, 1961), 132-139; Jacobs, 22-33.

[19] Cf. M, II, 677-678, n.2 and n.9.

[20] Northrop Frye, Spiritus Mundi: Essays on Literature, Myth and Society (Bloomington: Indiana U.P., 1976), 156.

[21] Ibid., 156.

[22] Ibid., 158; Harpham, 114-115.

[23] Frye, 160-165. Cf. Arthur Lovejoy, The Great Chain of Being (Cambridge: Harvard U.P., 1936), 59.

[24] As for his biographical background, Poe was born between a Shakespearean actor and actress who played Ferdinand and Ariel respectively in 1897 (A.H. Quinn, 715). Furthermore, B.N. Fagin points out that Poe was familiar with masques both Elizabethan and post-Elizabethan (The Histrionic Mr. Poe, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins U.P., 1949, 215-216). According to Pollin, there exist five references to The Tempest in the whole work of Poe (Dictionary of Names and Titles in Poe's Collected Works, New York: Da Capo, 1969), 172.

[25] Cf. John Carlos Rowe, Through the Custom-House: Nineteenth-Century American Fiction and Modern Theory (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins U.P., 1982), 1-27; Christine Brooke-Rose, A Rhetoric of the Unreal: Studies in Narrative and Structure, Especially of the Fantastic (Cambridge: Cambridge U.P., 1981), 364-389.

[26] Cf. Barbara Johnson, The Critical Difference: Essays in the Contemporary Rhetoric of Reading (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins U.P., 1980), 110-146.

[27] Poppolo, 141.

[28] Johnson, 141-142.

[29] Levine, 150; Poppolo. 143. Also see M, II, 678, n.13.

[30] Thompson, 83-84. Cf. Brooke-Rose, 364-373.

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