College of Liberal Arts

Department of English


H. Eric du Plessis

"Deliberate Chaos:
Poe's Use of Colors in 'The Masque of the Red Death'"

The oddly specific color arrangement of Prince Prospero's seven chambers in "The Masque of the Red Death" has long puzzled readers and critics. After reviewing past interpretations of this color sequence, I offer my own: Poe deliberately and painstakingly chose a succession of colors that cannot possibly be harmonized with one another. The result is an optical shock, a chromatic aberration that challenged his readers' traditional standards of artistic harmony, while reinforcing the atmosphere of aesthetic dissonance that permeates the tale.




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