Poe's Stories brief biography of edgar allan poe

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Short Story By Flannery OConnor
Related Characters Prince Prospero
Related Themes:
Page Number 37
Explanation and Analysis
In this story, a haughty prince, Prospero, holds a grand party in his palace. At the party, the guests try to distract themselves from the realities of their kingdom all around them, there's a horrible disease called the Red Death, which is killing off many innocent people. The Prince and his guests believe that their joy, wealth, and imagination will protect them from the disease.
Poe is clearly critical of Prospero's ignorance and arrogance with regard to the Red Death. Instead of accepting the reality of the horrible disease, or trying to do something about it, Prospero turns his back on the Red Death altogether. Some critics have suggested that Prospero is
Poe's caricature of his literary contemporaries, authors who, unlike Poe himself, ignored the horror and banality of life and tried to focus too excessively on aesthetics or fantasy. (As the story suggests, there was a class element in
Poe's critique of his contemporaries Poe was the first
American author to support himself entirely through writing, and seemed to have resented his wealthier peers.)
Where other writers try to forget how dangerous and horrifying the world really is, Poe uses literature to address to world's horrors head-on.
[…] 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.
Related Themes:
Page Number 39
Explanation and Analysis
In this passage, Poe describes the party that Prospero organizes for his court. At the party (held in a magnificent,
mysterious Gothic abbey) there is a room decorated all in black, in which there is a large clock, which tolls every hour.
When the clock tolls, the guests at the party become frightened and pale. While Poe never explains exactly why the guests are so influenced by a clock, he implies that the clock is a symbol of the guests' mortality--i.e., the very thing
Prospero is trying to forget. By the same logic, the clock is a symbol of impending, inevitable death the Red Death is coming to Prospero's party to kill everyone there, punishing them for their indifference to suffering.
The Cask of Amontillado Quotes
I must not only punish but punish with impunity. A wrong is unredressed when retribution overtakes its redresser. It is equally unredressed when the avenger fails to make himself felt as such to him who has done the wrong.

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