[BCH] The Mask of the Red Death

Un cuento corto del genio de la literatura de terror psicológico, Edgar Allan Poe, muy apropiado para estos tiempos… 😈

THE «Red Death» had long devastated the country. No pestilence had ever been so fatal, or so hideous. Blood was its Avatar and its seal — the redness and the horror of blood. There were sharp pains, and sudden dizziness, and then profuse bleeding at the pores, with dissolution. The scarlet stains upon the body and especially upon the face of the victim, were the pest ban which shut him out from the aid and from the sympathy of his fellow-men. And the whole seizure, progress and termination of the disease, were the incidents of half an hour.

But the Prince Prospero was happy and dauntless and sagacious. When his dominions were half depopulated, he summoned to his presence a thousand hale and light-hearted friends from among the knights and dames of his court, and with these retired to the deep seclusion of one of his castellated abbeys. This was an extensive and magnificent structure, the creation of the prince’s own eccentric yet august taste. A strong and lofty wall girdled it in. This wall had gates of iron. The courtiers, having entered, brought furnaces and massy hammers and welded the bolts. They resolved to leave means neither of ingress or egress to the sudden impulses of despair or of frenzy from within. The abbey was amply provisioned. 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. The prince had provided all the appliances of pleasure. There were buffoons, there were improvisatori, there were ballet-dancers, there were musicians, there was Beauty, there was wine. All these and security were within. Without was the «Red Death.»

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. But first let me tell of the rooms in which it was held. There were seven — an imperial suite. In many palaces, however, such suites form a long and straight vista, while the folding doors slide back nearly to the walls on either hand, so that the view of the whole extent is scarcely impeded. Here the case was very different; as might have been expected from the duke’s love of the bizarre. The apartments were so irregularly disposed that the vision embraced but little more than one at a time. There was a sharp turn at every twenty or thirty yards, and at each turn a novel effect. To the right 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. Now in no one of the seven apartments was there any lamp or candelabrum, amid the profusion of golden ornaments that lay scattered to and fro or depended from the roof. There was no light of any kind emanating from lamp or candle within the suite of chambers. But in the corridors that followed the suite, there stood, opposite to each window, a heavy tripod, bearing a brazier of fire that protected its rays through the tinted glass and so glaringly illumined the room. And thus were produced a multitude of gaudy and fantastic appearances. 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.

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 hearken 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 reverie or meditation. But when the echoes had fully ceased, a light laughter at once pervaded the assembly; the musicians looked at each other and smiled as if at their own nervousness and folly, and made whispering vows, each to the other, that the next chiming of the clock should produce in them no similar emotion; and then, after the lapse of sixty minutes, (which embrace three thousand and six hundred seconds of the Time that flies,) there came yet another chiming of the clock, and then were the same disconcert and tremulousness and meditation as before.

But, in spite of these things, it was a gay and magnificent revel. The tastes of the duke were peculiar. He had a fine eye for colors and effects. He disregarded the decora of mere fashion. His plans were bold and fiery, and his conceptions glowed with barbaric lustre. There are some who would have thought him mad. His followers felt that he was not. It was necessary to hear and see and touch him to be sure that he was not.

He had directed, in great part, the moveable embellishments of the seven chambers, upon occasion of this great fete; and it was his own guiding taste which had given character to the masqueraders. Be sure they were grotesque. There were much glare and glitter and piquancy and phantasm — much of what has been since seen in «Hernani.» There were arabesque figures with unsuited limbs and appointments. There were delirious fancies such as the madman fashions. 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. 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. But to the chamber which lies most westwardly of the seven, there are now none of the maskers who venture; for the night is waning away; and there flows a ruddier light through the blood-colored panes; and the blackness of the sable drapery appals; and to him whose foot falls upon the sable carpet, there comes from the near clock of ebony a muffled peal more solemnly emphatic than any which reaches their ears who indulge in the more remote gaieties of the other apartments.

But these other apartments were densely crowded, and in them beat feverishly the heart of life. And the revel went whirlingly on, until at length there commenced the sounding of midnight upon the clock. And then the music ceased, as I have told; and the evolutions of the waltzers were quieted; and there was an uneasy cessation of all things as before. But now there were twelve strokes to be sounded by the bell of the clock; and thus it happened, perhaps, that more of thought crept, with more of time, into the meditations of the thoughtful among those who revelled. And thus, too, it happened, perhaps, that before the last echoes of the last chime had utterly sunk into silence, there were many individuals in the crowd who had found leisure to become aware of the presence of a masked figure which had arrested the attention of no single individual before. And the rumor of this new presence having spread itself whisperingly around, there arose at length from the whole company a buzz, or murmur, expressive of disapprobation and surprise — then, finally, of terror, of horror, and of disgust.

In an assembly of phantasms such as I have painted, it may well be supposed that no ordinary appearance could have excited such sensation. In truth the masquerade license of the night was nearly unlimited; but the figure in question had out-Heroded Herod, and gone beyond the bounds of even the prince’s indefinite decorum. There are chords in the hearts of the most reckless which cannot be touched without emotion. Even with the utterly lost, to whom life and death are equally jests, there are matters of which no jest can be made. The whole company, indeed, seemed now deeply to feel that in the costume and bearing of the stranger neither wit nor propriety existed. The figure was tall and gaunt, and shrouded from head to foot in the habiliments of the grave. The mask which concealed the visage was made so nearly to resemble the countenance of a stiffened corpse that the closest scrutiny must have had difficulty in detecting the cheat. And yet all this might have been endured, if not approved, by the mad revellers around. But the mummer had gone so far as to assume the type of the Red Death. His vesture was dabbled in blood — and his broad brow, with all the features of the face, was besprinkled with the scarlet horror.

When the eyes of Prince Prospero fell upon this spectral image (which with a slow and solemn movement, as if more fully to sustain its role, stalked to and fro among the waltzers) he was seen to be convulsed, in the first moment with a strong shudder either of terror or distaste; but, in the next, his brow reddened with rage.

«Who dares?» he demanded hoarsely of the courtiers who stood near him — «who dares insult us with this blasphemous mockery? Seize him and unmask him — that we may know whom we have to hang at sunrise, from the battlements!»

It was in the eastern or blue chamber in which stood the Prince Prospero as he uttered these words. They rang throughout the seven rooms loudly and clearly — for the prince was a bold and robust man, and the music had become hushed at the waving of his hand.

It was in the blue room where stood the prince, with a group of pale courtiers by his side. At first, as he spoke, there was a slight rushing movement of this group in the direction of the intruder, who at the moment was also near at hand, and now, with deliberate and stately step, made closer approach to the speaker. But from a certain nameless awe with which the mad assumptions of the mummer had inspired the whole party, there were found none who put forth hand to seize him; so that, unimpeded, he passed within a yard of the prince’s person; and, while the vast assembly, as if with one impulse, shrank from the centres of the rooms to the walls, he made his way uninterruptedly, but with the same solemn and measured step which had distinguished him from the first, through the blue chamber to the purple — through the purple to the green — through the green to the orange — through this again to the white — and even thence to the violet, ere a decided movement had been made to arrest him. It was then, however, that the Prince Prospero, maddening with rage and the shame of his own momentary cowardice, rushed hurriedly through the six chambers, while none followed him on account of a deadly terror that had seized upon all. He bore aloft a drawn dagger, and had approached, in rapid impetuosity, to within three or four feet of the retreating figure, when the latter, having attained the extremity of the velvet apartment, turned suddenly and confronted his pursuer. 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 mummer, 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.

And now was acknowledged the presence of the Red Death. He had come like a thief in the night. And one by one dropped the revellers in the blood-bedewed halls of their revel, and died each in the despairing posture of his fall. And the life of the ebony clock went out with that of the last of the gay. And the flames of the tripods expired. And Darkness and Decay and the Red Death held illimitable dominion over all.

•The story read by Basil Rathbone:

•The story in PDF:

•Y aquí la tenéis en castellano, para que no os molestéis en buscar… 😏

Voluntary work: a personal comment on your opinion about the story, what it suggested to you and the feelings you had when reading it. [Extension: ≥80 words. Deadline: Tuesday, 12 of January at 23:59]

18 comentarios en “[BCH] The Mask of the Red Death

  1. In my opinión «The Mas of the Red Death» is a very interesting story. It is a short story that shows us that death is inevitable and the people are afraid ofdying.
    When I have read it, I have Felt horror because it has made me reflector and relate this story this story to the current global pandemia that we are experiencing.

    •Just that? Too short (—> Extension: ≥80 words)
    •You should revise your writing before publishing.

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  2. I really liked this story even though I had already read it. Despite how short it is, [subject?] expresses the terror of the locked men, all the emotions of the protagonists in general. It also describes the rooms very well and in a curious way. I really like the way the author, Edgar Allan Poe, writes it since he is one of my favorite writers and playwrights. As I was reading, in the middle of the story, I have been a little confused by some part that I have not fully understood.

    As for what you have suggested to me, I have to say that I was impressed by the tragic story and the way it is written, which accompanies it very well. Every time the clocks sounded, I have noticed confusion. Finally, when the red death appears, it has impressed me again, especially the ending, when it ends with the prince and all the members of the room die in the position in which they fall to the ground.

    Rather well, but you should revise before publishing.

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  3. It is a terrifying story. The destiny of every living being is reflected: to die. Death comes to all of us: rich or poor, good or bad. The when, how and where is a mystery, an unknown to which none of us have the answer. But no matter how much we meet and avoid her, she will always find us. Our destiny is written.
    This can be seen reflected in this story. Although the prince took refuge in one of its fortified abbeys away from the «red death», this one appeared on a very special day, such as the masked ball and took him and all the people who were there.
    There are several things that have caught my attention: the different colors of each of the rooms in which the guests [verb?] and the sound of its bells, which represent the countdown of what remains of life to death.

    Rather well, but you should revise those mistakes.

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  4. This book in my opinion is a bit strange at the time of reading it since there are words in pages that I don’t understand.
    I started it with enthusiasm since I started talking about a «red mask» that killed and terrified the population, but as I was reading the plot bored me so I lost the thread of the story. In conclusion, this story about the «red mask» I didn´t like since it seems boring and I haven’t finished understanding it very well.

    •LOL! At least, you are sincere about your likes, but you must remember it is a voluntary work. It’s better not doing something rather than doing it badly.
    •There exist dictionaries to help you with those words you don’t understand… 🙄
    •This story is NOT about a «mask» (I think you didn’t really read it).

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  5. As for this story «The Mask of the Red Death» I think it is entertaining and interesting. It is a short story in which it tells us that no one can be saved from death. When I read it, it conveyed sadness to me since this story can be related to what we are experiencing today, a pandemic.

    •Just that? Too short; you were asked ≥80 words; and you say hardly anything of your own…
    •Redundant words and syntax mistakes.

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  6. From my point of view, this story has a great similarity with respect to the current situation.

    When reading it, you do not really realize the background it has, the disease in the story is related to covid-19 and how regardless of the social position you are in if you are not careful, the «disease» can kill you. Unfortunately, these events are seen every day in the news when we see how big celebrities make parties or young people drinking in the street.

    Reading it has caused me some insecurity by realizing how ignorant and trusting people are.

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  7. In my opinion history has a moral at the end. Because as we can see the Prince thinks he’s smarter and more powerful than death, but the death, or in this case The “Red Death”, finally found him. I think the story shows in great detail the scenarios and emotions that people feel, for example as everyone stopped dancing when the clock kept sounding or the distribution and decoration of the rooms. This story suggests terror but at the same time fun, through to the details with which the author describes everything. We can feel terror when the clock rings or when The “Red Death” appears, and we can feel fun when the party guests dance in the colorful rooms.

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  8. From my point of view it seems like a very original horror story; The setting where it takes place is elegant but at the same time simple with objects that give importance to the work, which makes the story convey cold and terror sensations.
    Each description and each part of the scene suggests one thing to me: the brightly colored rooms refer to happiness, to life, on the contrary, the black room refers to the dark, the evil and the ebony found in she is determining the hour of death, that is, the hour of the red death mask.

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  9. While I was reading the beginning of this story I was imagining that this could happen with the situation we are in now. It did not seem normal to me that this prince decided to flee from the disease and not fight it, leaving the rest of his sick people dying. For this reason I believe that everything that happened to the prince and the people who were healthy deserved it for leaving the sick aside. While I was reading it I was imagining this situation today.

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  10. The mask of the red death is sinister, but deep.
    To start, its terrible that the Prince only save the rich people, and let the villagers died.
    While the villagers was dying, the rich people was celebrating parties and was safe.
    In my opinion is fair that the rich died too.
    I think that the presence of the uknown mask doesnt be literal, its a metaphore that means the dead for the illness is inevitable and the clock marks the hours they have left of life.

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  11. I found the mini-story entertaining, although it is a spooky. At first it seemed normal to me and like all stories but later it started to get interesting and more in the end when the masked figure appeared. While I was reading it, I was intrigued to know what was going to happen and how the story was going to end. The truth is that I liked it.

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  12. In my opinion, at the beginning of the story.The first thing I thought is that prince Prospero was a selfish man,and during the story, I felt in suspense and restless, because I wanted to know how the story would end.
    In conclusion, it is an entertaining, interesting and suspenful story.Despite that, it is a story that in few pages, lets us shows us how life is like and how quickly we can lose it.

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  13. In my opinion, the story is similar to the situation we are experiencing since The Red Death is like a virus that kills people.
    Personally i believe that this situation show us that it’s difficult to escape from a hard problem. To close our eyes or to think that nothing are happening don’t help us to resolve the problem.
    My advise is to look for a solution that help us to improve. If we look at the cause, we will resolve the problem.

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  14. I think that is a old story but it’s similar a the actual situation, that are happeping actually, The Red Death can remember us the covid-19. It’s a contagious diseae. A lot of people had died because of it.
    I’m convinced that get out of a hard problem don’t help us to resolve it. In cotrast it we work together to find a solution we will change the end.
    This text shows us a clear example. We could learn the lesson.

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    In my opinion, this story is really tragic and sad. In this history, you can see how people faced a pandemic or how the nobility acted with the population in the past. The history talks about controversial topics like a terrible pandemic. This is a short history, so it may be less hard to read, than a long history. However, I think it is very difficult to understand because there are a lot of complicated words.

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  16. I really liked this mini horror story, because there are only two protagonists, and it is much easier to understand the story.
    Also, the situation in history is very similar to the actual situation, in which there is a virus that will end up killing everyone.
    Finally, reading this story has transmitted a lot of intrigue for not knowing what will happen in the end, concern for the Prince and some anxiety because the rooms are very colorful.
    In short, the story is very good and for all those people who don’t like to read, it is a very short and entertaining story.

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  17. Today I am going to speak about this horror story.
    At the time alluded to, the characters are going through an epidemic and the richest people instead of helping everyone, they protect themselves by building a refuge. In my opinion the prince had a selfish and coward attitude. If we had acted that way in our current situation the number of deaths would have been much higher. In a nut shell, it is better to help each other than to take care just to your self.

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  18. Pingback: [1BCH] The Masque of the Red Death | The Duck Side

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