Character Portrayal in The TellTale Heart and Masque of the Red Death

This paper shall attempt to compare and contrast the methods of portrayal that Poe employs in these two short stories. Characters in The Masque of the Red Death have a very eerie quality to them that is achieved through the use of architectural detail that discusses the gothic structures of the kingdom that is talked of. The king’s attempts to lock himself and his courtiers in from the scourge of the Red Death are subverted right from the beginning of the story through the use of gothic detail that makes it amply clear that one of the main characters in Poe’s tale is the suite that he painstakingly describes. In fact, much of the story’s space is taken up by an elaborate description of the architecture of the buildings that the story is set in. Like in most modern literature, Poe’s tale enables one to look at the role that architecture plays in one’s life. The life that is given to a particular architectural structure is not divorced from the main thread of the story as is amply demonstrated by The Masque of the Red Death. The appearance of the king in all his glory and pomp is undercut at every stage by the gothic clock chiming away at every hour indicating the arrival of the death of the king, filling the reader with a sense of foreboding of doom. The clock too, like the other inanimate characters in the story, assumes a life of its own under the guiding hand of Poe, who infuses the prophetic clock with a human-like ability to foretell the death that was about to enclose all the members of the king’s train along with him, by the end of the play. …
The clock too, like the other inanimate characters in the story, assumes a life of its own under the guiding hand of Poe, who infuses the prophetic clock with a human-like ability to foretell the death that was about to enclose all the members of the king’s train along with him, by the end of the play. Architectural structures are however, assigned a luminal space in The Tell-Tale Heart, so as to provide maximum space to the portrayal of the mind of the murderer and the murdered. The house of the murdered and its various features only provide a backdrop to the various events that are narrated in the story and the main focus remains on the human characters in the story. Even though the house, by the end of the story becomes the hiding place of the corpse of the murdered person, it is not invested with any energy other than what is probably symbolic. Unlike in The Masque of the Red Death, the pieces of furniture and the parts of the house do not have a life of their own that seem to be agents of ate, subverting every action of the murderer. In fact, they seem to echo the states of the mind that the murderer finds himself in, thus being symbols or extensions of his mental states at various points of time. The master storyteller that he is, Poe does not for a moment let the reader think that the objects that he describes are animate objects that catch on to the energy of the murderous criminal. rather, they are imaginary creations of the mind of the narrator who is also the murderer, whose visions the reader shares in, until a particular point in time. Unlike the reliable narrator of The Masque of the Red Death, the narrator of The