Homepage > Classics > Orrore > Storie brevi > La maschera della morte rossa Recensioni

La maschera della morte rossa

The Masque of the Red Death
Da Edgar Allan Poe
Recensioni: 26 | Valutazione complessiva: Bene
The story follows Prince Prospero's attempts to avoid a dangerous plague known as the Red Death by hiding in his abbey. He, along with many other wealthy nobles, has a masquerade ball within seven rooms of his abbey, each decorated with a different color. In the midst of their revelry, a mysterious figure disguised as a Red Death victim enters and makes his way through


Ozzy Handshoe

I’ve always sensed a strong connection to Poe’s La maschera della morte rossa, perhaps because I've both played and listen to loads of medieval music, perhaps because I enjoy the art and history and philosophy of that period, or, perhaps because I’ve always been drawn to literature dealing with issues of life and death. Whatever the reason, I love this tale. Here are my reflections on several themes:

The tale’s Red Death sounds like the Black Death of 1349 where a family member could be perfectly healthy in the morning, start feeling sick at noon, spit blood and be in excruciating pain in the evening and be dead by midnight. It was that quick. Living at the time of the Black Death, one Italian chronicler wrote, “They died by the hundreds, both day and night, and all were thrown in ... ditches and covered with earth. And as soon as those ditches were filled, more were dug. And I, Agnolo di Tura ... buried my five children with my own hands ... And so many died that all believed it was the end of the world.”

Let the Red Death take those on the outside. Prince Prospero took steps to make sure his castle would be a sanctuary, a secure refuge where, once bolted inside, amid a carefully constructed world of festival, a thousand choice friends could revel in merriment with jugglers, musicians, dancers and an unlimited supply of wine. And then, “It was toward the close of the fifth or sixth month of his seclusion, and while the pestilence raged most furiously abroad, that the Prince Prospero entertained his thousand friends at a masked ball of the most unusual magnificence. It was a voluptuous scene, that masquerade.” Classic Edgar Allan Poe foreshadowing.

The prince constructed seven rooms for his revelers. And there is all that medieval symbolism for the number seven, such as seven gifts of the holy spirit, Seven Seals from the Book of Revelation, seven liberal arts, the seven virtues and, of course, the seven deadly sins (gluttony, lechery, avarice, luxury, wrath, envy, and sloth), which sounds like a catalogue of activities within the castle walls.

Keeping in mind the medieval symbolism for the color black with associations of darkness, evil, the devil, power and secrecy, we read, “But in the western or black chamber the effect of the fire light that streamed upon the dark hangings through the blood-tinted panes, was ghastly in the extreme, and produced so wild a look upon the countenances of those who entered, that there were few of the company bold enough to set foot within its precincts at all.” We are told the prince’s plans were bold and fiery and barbaric, but, as we read the tale, we see how even a powerful prince can be outflanked by the fiery and chaotic side of life itself.

This seventh chamber has a huge ebony clanging clock. A reminder for both eye and ear that the prince can supply his revelers and himself with an unlimited supply of wine but there is one thing he doesn’t have the power to provide – an unlimited amount of time.

When the clock clangs twelve times, a tall, gaunt, blood-spotted, corpse-like reveler appears in the black chamber. Poe, master storyteller that he is, pens one of my all-time favorite lines: “Even with the utterly lost, to whom life and death are equally jests, there are matters of which no jest can be made.” Not a lot of merriment once the revelers start dropping like blood-covered, despairing flies.

We read how there are some who think the prince mad. After all, what is a Poe tale without the possibility of madness? Additionally, when the revelers attempt to seize the intruder with his grey garments and corpse-like mask, they come away with nothing. If these revelers were minutes from an agonizing plague-induced death, how sharp are their senses, really? To what extent is their experience the play of the mind?

Neel Purpura

And Darkness and Decay and the Red Death held illimitable dominion over all.

I enjoy Edgar Allan Poe so much; however, I still did not manage to get through all of his short stories, but I'll be definitely working on correcting that oversight.

This one was short, straight to the point. It won't go between my favourite Poe's short stories but yet, it was rather chilling.

With such precautions the courtiers might bid defiance to contagion. The external world could take care of itself. In the meantime it was folly to grieve, or to think.
Gard Attianese

Fascinating and lurid allegory about a group of people who, on the invitation of "Prince Prospero," lock themselves within a "castellated abbey" to escape the Red Death. The inhabitants of the abbey are provided "all the appliances of pleasure," and boy do they know how to party: "there were buffoons, there were improvisatori, there were ballet-dancers, there were musicians, there was Beauty, there was wine." It all culminates in a huge masked ball held in several colorful and gaudy chambers: "There was much glare and glitter and piquancy and phantasm.... There was 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." Then who shows up, of course, but a figure dressed as a Red Death victim: "His vesture was dabbled in blood--and his broad brow, with all the features of the face, was besprinkled with the scarlet horror." Prince Prospero becomes seriously pissed-off at this figure because he's spoiling all the fun, everyone is scared and freaked out, but when he confronts him he sees that there's literally nothing behind the mask, and he drops dead, and soon everyone else does too.

So what is Poe saying here? (I find myself searching for the answer to this question because of the allegorical nature of the work itself.) For one thing, that you can't cheat death, but I think there's something more profound going on, a sort of sociological take on how people ignore the suffering of others at their peril. That we can't really wall ourselves off and party in the face of others' suffering because that suffering will inevitably reach us too. We can't ignore others' pain or pretend it doesn't exist or look the other way.
Kirstyn Pardi

Kurt Vonnegut, Ray Bradbury, HP Lovecraft and Edgar Allan Poe are playing a round of golf in the Great Hereafter and discussing Poe’s short work The Masque of the Red Death.

Vonnegut: Damn! Hooked it.

Lovecraft: You’ve been pulling it left all day, you raised your head on the swing.

Bradbury: I saw you move your front foot.

Poe: You need to keep your arm straighter.

Vonnegut: OK! Damn it. Ed, what in the hell made you write the Red Death story?

Bradbury: Masque of the Red Death, one of my favorites, this influenced me in so many ways.

Lovecraft: Me too, the idea of a surreptitious plague being intentionally shared with the well to do was too good.

Poe: I think I was struck by the historic discrepancy between the haves and the have nots in material wealth and position and yet death makes no such distinctions.

Bradbury: You smacked the hell out of the ball HP, was that your 3 wood?

Lovecraft: 4 wood, I know! I’m getting at least par, if I don’t choke on the green. Ed, were you making a class distinction?

Poe: Nice shot HP, well yes and no. Certainly the setting of the masquerade party while the rest of the city was suffering and dying was a statement about class differences and especially with the insensitivity of the aristocracy but more than that, I wanted to convey a sense of poetic justice.

Vonnegut: Damn it! I can’t buy a straight shot today!

Bradbury: You raised your head again.

Lovecraft: You jerked your backswing.

Poe: It might help if you would put out the cigarette.

Vonnegut: Thanks [lighting another] and you made a very early observation about airborne pathogens, this was published in the 1840s right?

Poe: 1842, right, but honestly the infection was more of a symbolic rather than a medical set up. Wow! Nice chip HP.

Bradbury: Yeah, wow, you’re shooting for a birdie, right?

Lovecraft: Yeah! So Ed, what about the masquerade party? Was this just a framing device to allow the Red Death carrier to visit the party?

Poe: Well, yes, but also I think I was trying to create a metaphor for the masks that we wear in society, figuratively speaking that would allow these partyers to ignore the misery of their neighbors. And remember, you twentieth century guys are far more removed from true detached aristocracy, back in the day, if you weren’t part of the in crowd, your life or death mattered very little. Whoa! Great putt HP!

Lovecraft: Thanks Ed. Kurt, looks like you’re buying the beer.

Vincent Price [from another hole] FOUR!

Boycey Boyne

La maschera della morte rossa, written in 1842 by Edgar Allan Poe, is a surprisingly short story, which is generally regarded to be allegorical. In it, Prince Prospero is so terrified of the pestilential "Red Death", that he walls himself and a thousand wealthy nobles up in his castellated abbey, where they have a masquerade ball, moving from room to room. Obviously they are going to come to a sticky end. At the time of writing Poe's wife was suffering from tuberculosis, and there was an epidemic of cholera in Baltimore which he saw, so it is likely that he was very preoccupied with illness and death at the time.

Nevertheless this is a beautifully painted story. The seven-chambered apartment is vividly described, each having its own colour both by furnishings and illuminated by coloured light through the windows. A sense of foreboding is created as the final room is black, with blood-red light. There is much festivity as the guests move through the chambers, until (visualizza spoiler)[they come across a shrouded figure in a blood-spattered robe, whose mask looks like the face of a cadaver. Prospero chases the figure to the end room, but dies horribly after confronting it, as do all the guests. At the end of the story it becomes evident that the intangible spectre was the "Red Death" stessa. (nascondi spoiler)] The author has used one of his favourite settings, a castle; the large clock clanging every hour increases the mounting tension; (visualizza spoiler)[the spectre at the end causing the demise of all the characters in a gruesome unearthly way; (nascondi spoiler)] all these are classic Poe.
Asha Messler

Even if this is a short story, Edgar Allan Poe knew how to make a piece of art out of it ... when he was like describing scenes, I felt like am already in front of that castle he was talking about ... I should read it in french too i guess
Mallina Sodervick

In one of my Literature textbooks, this is the story the book chose to best set the example of how important setting can be to a story.

Poe's incredible talent in setting mood through the most miniscule of details is powerful as he establishes dread, irony, and a hefty infusion of Gothic feel by detailing the colors of a series of rooms and what they represent to the audience and characters. The symbolism of the clock is musical and alluring; the ominous clang and the dancers reactions, with its dong indicating the time, further spells out a foreboding mood and tone.

Even the pattern the rooms are walked through speaks volumes. The first room as light blue can symbolize brightness and innocence, skies and springs and births and new beginnings. Each of the seven rooms has a window, all with the color matching the interior of their walls, the exception being the final, seventh room: black.

Poe has stated that stories are best enjoyed if they can be read in one sitting. The Masque of the Red Death is indeed short, only a few pages long, and so it should speak volumes that Poe chose this short space to go into detail about the rooms. He goes into the most detail about the black, final room as its significance - death, the ultimate end, the irony - is the most important element of the story. It is also in this room that the clock beckons and waits.

Without getting into details about any of the characters, Poe concentrates on setting and the most important and only qualities about the prince that the audience needs to know - his fear of the Red Plague and death, his ultimate arrogance in the face of death, believing he can seal it off and defeat it by abiding within his castle walls.

The party-goers feel the same, reassured by the self-imposed power the prince claims, dancing around at midnight behind their masks, stopping only when the clock chimes its ominous call, feeling a small hesitation but quickly ignoring it again as they resume merry dancing and happily embracing false securities. Death as the ultimate, inevitable force erupts onto the party. The prince then proceeds from room to room in a circular order, indicating from life to different stages of color, to the inevitable black which is the end room, from which there is no escape.

Poe was an original type of writer who aspired to make a solid career as a literary critic. Confident in his writing ability and seeking to inject freshness into words by developing the world's first detective story and gothic pieces which whispered doses of irony, he isn't the type to resort to already used phrases or cliches. Because of this, I find high relevance in the ending paragraph, where he writes:

And now was acknowledged the presence of the Red Death. He had come like a thief in the night.

Instantly I recognized "come like a thief in the night" as the biblical words spoken by Jesus when referring to the apocalypse. It would come without warning and begin the reign of death, as He comes "like a thief in the night."

A powerful tale about the finality of an ending which can't be avoided, Poe is to be admired for capturing such a significant range of emotions using creative settings in a short span of pages.
Viquelia Gilzow

This is a typical type Poe short story in terms of its dark, gloomy, gothic atmosphere and also its obscurity since the story requires deep-analysis and interpretation. However, it is different from others due to its didactic message: Death is inevitable, no matter what you do and no matter who you are, you cannot escape it just like the Prince Prospero - an allusion to the Tempest.
Sible Ricciardi

Edgar Allan Poe and Halloween go hand in hand.

It has been many years since I first read this story but it never ceases to chill. We cannot run away or hide from death. It comes for us all.
Florentia Twitty

I liked this one a lot more than Il cuore di Tell-Tale. The Red Death is a fictional plague that may or may not have been based on consumption/tuberculosis. Prince Prospero is a dreadful man who is vulgar with his wealth while his country suffers around him. He hosts a huge ball and of course, meets a grisly demise.

A lot of time was spent, it seemed, on describing the various rooms, which each had a color and theme. The revelers were all too happy to join him in celebration until things start to go south.

This is a very short story and easy to read. Poe likes long paragraphs. There were several sentences/quotes I really liked, like this one:

Ci sono accordi nei cuori dei più spericolati che non possono essere toccati senza emozione.

This one is spooky and dark and really goth.
Jessa Kube

When I think of Gothic literature, Edgar Allen Poe is sure to come to mind. Although it is a short story, the Masque of the Red Death is chilling. Poe sets up a very atmospheric read with the colorful and indulgent Prince Prospero and the mysterious guest who is both frightening and foreboding. I think the Masque of the Red Death is a fine example of why Poe's works are considered classics.
Cointon Hibbits

I'm loving Poe so far. I'm surprised I haven't been given recommendation for him so far but I guess not many of my GR friends have read his work.

Ellora Bratek

Rileggere, 11/5/17:
Maybe my favorite Poe. He has this style, that makes you feel this rush and think, dang, that's cool! I remember feeling more of that in the first read. This time, I don't know if perspectives changed or if I understood the objectivity of the piece better, but I felt a visceral terror flowing through my body from my gut that ended in an explosion of thrill and high, and bodily reactions of goosebumps and chill-bumps in the end. This Red Death guy - not someone I'd like to meet at a gathering. He wears a mask of a human face contorted in agony of plague-death, with wet, shining blood splish-splashed across his death garments. The feeling resembles that of a super-zombie, but one of extreme intelligence and god-likeness. One by one, they all fall down, before the Masque of The Red Death.

Poe, Poe, Poe. Amazing! Poe!

Recensione originale:
I'm kind of embarrassed to admit this but Poe scares the hell out of me. His prose sinks into your mind, setting the soul on a fire of fear. Man, the personification of a plague, stylized Zorro-like. Disturbing!
Troy Vuyovich

I love the premise- fearing a horrible sickness that has seized his lands, a hedonistic prince locks himself and hundreds of his friends away in a castle, with an enormous wall running the length of it so nothing can get in or out. But soon the prince's fanciful denial is shattered in a very... strange way.

Basically, what my dislike of this comes down to is the length. It's only four pages, which (for me at least) simply is not enough time to become invested in a story and care about its ending. The writing is beautiful as always, but there was something mancante, something I couldn't quite put my finger on. I didn't really care about the plot, wasn't even rooting for the selfish Prince Prospero to get his comeuppance.

The idea of the rooms of all different colours just kinda made me shrug, the same way I shrugged in Il ritratto di Dorian Gray when everybody is avoiding Dorian because of his incredibly scandalous lifestyle- which pretty much entails collecting foreign instruments and fancy books. I feel that both of those things were supposed to have a greater affect on the reader than they did. Perhaps I'm missing the symbolism of the rooms, though I do have my own theory about the castle itself: that it (visualizza spoiler)[represents the human mind, or maybe just the mind of Prospero, and as much as the enormous ballroom tries, it will never be able to shut out what comes from the black room, which I took to represent paranoia and the knowledge of impending death. (nascondi spoiler)] Again, I feel I must impress that this may be completely and totally wrong, and maybe my impeded grasp of symbolism is what kept me from enjoying this short tale. It is what it is.

I much preferred Ligeia e La caduta della casa degli Usher, which, though they're not as well-known as The Masque of the Red Death, are longer and more fleshed-out. Read it qui.

(Though the Month of Poe is still in full swing, once Halloween passes I'm going to take a little break from Great Tales and Poems. I'm in the mood for some action-adventure fantasy and was thinking of trying The Final Empire, unless any of you guys have some recommendations for a good fantasy book? I haven't explored the genre very much, and I think it's high time I do.)
Oona Lewars

My personal favorite horror short, pretty much ever.
I don't think anyone will have gotten the full Poe Experience without reading Maschera ad un certo punto.
Lavish in detail and honestly, more powerful than a lot of full-length novels I've read. I wish there were a way to describe it without feeling like I'm squashing the whole point of reading it.
Granthem Ofsak

I first read "The Masque of the Red Death" when I was a junior in high school. I remember liking it but it wasn't my favorite Poe short story that I’d read at the time. I decided to reread this book when one of my friends (shoutout to Deanna) read it recently and decided it was time to see if my opinion had changed at all. One reason I was interested in reading this story was that I did like Poe's other stories at the time, and this one was always so well received for its symbolism and references in "The Shining." It seems waiting a decade to reread this short story hasn’t altered my views on liking it any.

(visualizza spoiler)[The story talks about the Prince Prospero and other nobles, who escape a plague (Red Death) and settle down in Prospero’s abbey. At a masquerade ball party, Prospero and the other nobles enjoy their time. At midnight, a mysterious dark figure appears, as it has the same traits, which the Red Death per se has. Prospero asks everyone around to identify this figure’s identity since it wears a mask. Prospero decides to hang whomever is behind this mask. The nobles do not approach it. Prospero trails the figure as he draws a dagger. However, the figure vanquishes Prospero, who falls dead. The mask is fallen—nothing is behind it—but the nobles realise that whatever behind it, is the Red Death itself. They all fall dead because of it. (nascondi spoiler)]

The story itself, and the ending are really well written, compared to some of the other dark Poe endings in quality. To me, the sagging middle that pulls me right out of really enjoying this story as much as I could have his other work. I get so distracted by the description here to actually enjoy the story. I think there might be more description than story. Normally I find the descriptions in Poe's work to be a huge plus, but it's honestly this particular story's biggest detriment.

I would still recommend reading this, as none of Poe's works should be missed out on. I know most people do enjoy this one and it is one of his unknown works among “youth” today, but once you read it you usually don’t forget it. The actual story and the ending are still of excellent quality despite my complaints.
Northington Hueston

5 Stars—A classic tale of hubris and irony! Also one of those stories that teachers love to dissect and analyze. I remember reading it back in school and trying to figure out the meaning behind all the colors of the rooms ... still don’t know, but I don’t think I’m missing much! However this is a chilling tale that has crazy imagery that gives me goosebumps! You can’t run from death, so don’t even try!
Allen Rupprecht

I still consider this to be the finest thing Edgar Allan Poe ever wrote. It is his greatest work in my opinion. Almost every line in it is beautiful in some way and the overall effect is considerable. I first read it back in school, but I was rereading it on audiobook, read by Basil Rathbone. Let me tell you, he does a good job. All the hairs on the back of my neck stood up. And it has that haunting, echoing last line "And Darkness and Decay and the Red Death held illimitable dominion over all".
Mac Simmer

Corona virus has reminded me of this short story by Poe (thank you Gutenberg and Google for immediate gratification!). We can lock ourselves in but the plague is insidious - we think because we cannot see it there is no threat, yet it masquerades among us and within us. Those of us who defy social distancing and revel in groups are enabling....stay in ALONE with just immediate family, limit social interaction to social media and ZOOM, and take care of yourselves.
Rafter Murrieta

Poe is such a master of the macabre and so enjoyable in print and listening to his adaptations on OTR (old time radio).
Now to this story, I felt myself one of the revellers being swept from room to room, reminding me of the frenzy of the dance in Vincent's Minnelli's 1949 Madame Bovary with Jennifer Jones. Poe describes the castellated Abbey and masquerade that has one feeling the clock striking and stoppage of the music real. The Prince tries to escape Red Death as Giovanni Boccaccio tries to with Black Plague in The Decameron with amusement. I mention Boccaccio only because it came to my mind. Poe once again shows his excellence in this short masterpiece.
Sparkie Sujal

No a single catch in the short read.
Such an upsetting one again after 'The Fall of the House of Usher'. Failed series so far.
No Horror at all.
Not much to review, quiet a fall in grades of list.
Iago Martinolli

This short story is hands down one of my favorite Poe stories! I love the symbolism and imagery in this tale. Basically, the "Red Death" is a plague that is wreaking havoc on the town in the story and Prince Prospero decides to lock himself, and many of his friends, away in his home. He ultimately ends up hosting a very grand masquerade party and while him and his people are lavishly partying it up within the confines of his sanctuary, everyone else is dying a terrible death. There are seven uniquely decorated rooms in his house where the party-goers roam while the celebrations never cease; and in the last room (decorated in black and red) there is an ebony clock which has a very eery and distinct chime that marks the end of an hour. When the clock chimes, everyone inexplicably pauses and the music stops until the clock is quiet. When midnight arrives, everyone is confronted with a terrifying figure, the "Red Death". As you can imagine, some very unfortunate and gruesome things follow the appearance of this figure.

I feel like the main point in this story can really be up to anyone's interpretation. But for me, the message that is loud and clear is that you can't cheat death and that it will creep up on you (much like the "Red Death" figure) no matter what. The clock in the story is symbolic of our internal clocks that are ticking away. One thing in the story that I didn't entirely catch the meaning of initially was the seven rooms. Upon further research, I learned that some believe that the seven rooms that were featured in Poe's story are to be interpreted as the seven stages of life. To me, that makes sense after reading about the rooms in this tale. At any rate, no matter what Edgar was trying to prove, this story was an astonishing one that vividly plays out in my head every time I read it.
Willock Diulio

A good short story with a fascinating setting. You have to read it a few times to ascertain any deeper meaning, though one read through would provide enjoyment too. Great for Halloween, and picking up the symbolism behind the deeper colors, the inclusion of sickness, various social classes, etc. made it fun to dissect in short story club. If you're searching for a scary yet thought-provoking piece, I'd highly recommend Masque of the Red Death.

Lascia una recensione per La maschera della morte rossa