The Disturbing Chime of the Ebony Clock

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Symbolism and allegory are two very important elements that go hand-in-hand-in English literature. Allegory is very instrumental when an author uses either events or characters represent ideas or concepts in a story. In the short story, literature reading, The Masque of the Red Death, by Edgar Allen Poe, he alluded to death through allegory and symbolism. The plot of this short story was a terrible plague, called the Red Death that was sweeping the land and killing all of the noblemen and women. The main character, Prince Prospero, had decided to hold a ball in his abbey to protect the people from the Red Death. The purpose of this paper is to examine the symbolism that Poe used in The Masque of the Red Death, with emphasis being on the Ebony Clock. In his abbey there were seven colored rooms, of which the final room was black and lit by a dark-scarlet light. Of all of the rooms, the last room was avoided by all of Prince Prospero’s guests as well as him. Also, in this seventh room there was an item in particular that stood out and that was an Ebony Clock. When the chiming occurred, all laughter, dancing, and talking by Prince Prospero’s guests would cease and so would the music. After the chiming ended, everything would always return back to the party-like state of being. This unsettling and interrupting chime of the ebony clock was indeed Poe’s use of allegory and symbolism. The Ebony clock alluded to death and the hourly chiming indicated that “death” was near and inevitable. Poe’s description, alone, of the clock as it sounded was clearly an indicatory that something tragic was going to happen. He said, “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” (Poe 5). At midnight, the clock chimed

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