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A Comparison Essay between “The Masque of the Red” and “The Beggar Woman of Locarno”

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This essay aims to compare the stories “The Masque of the Red” and “The Beggar of Locarno”. The story of Masque of the Red Death is set in prince Prospero’s lavish "castellated abbey" that is concealed at an undisclosed place in his kingdom. In addition to secrecy of this location, Prospero and his supporters have welded the doors, so as to allow people to either get in or get out. The main action of the story takes place in a complicated suite that has seven rooms that are colored; each room has a different color theme. The setting in the “Masque of the Red Death” is one of the most fundamental literary aspects of this story, as it produces an effect that makes a reader feel like he/she is in a dream world far from reality. On the other hand, the setting of “The Beggar Woman of Locarno” is at a humble location near Locarno in the upper Italy (Edgar 1). This is a setting near the foot of the Alps. The main activities of the story take place at one of the spacious rooms at the castle. The castle was a property of Marquis, and in the room rested an old sick woman who was a beggar. This room was given to her by the mistress of marquis as shelter. The only thing that she lied on was a bundle of straw (Heinrich 1).

The narrator of “The Masque of the Red Death” speaks in the third person, therefore, not occupying any precise character’s perspectives. The characters are involved in minimal cases in the story. The narrator focuses on developing an atmosphere of Prospero’s party, whereas the narrator of “The Beggar Woman of Locarno” by Heinrich speaks in the third person, but not occupying any specific character’s viewpoints. The narrator only explains the activities that took place in the spacious room at the castle. The narrator of this story creates a horrific atmosphere that is experienced by the woman who is a beggar, when she is harassed by Marquis. The narrator intensifies the horrific atmosphere when a noble man who wanted to make a business deal with this room complains about the room being haunted by invisible thing at midnight (Heinrich 2).

Tone from the very start to end the story is grave; by its ominous tone the reader never forgets the sense of a frightening threat. The grave tone is evident in the opening of the story the "Red Death" which had devastated the country for so long. “No pestilence had ever been so fatal, or so hideous. Blood was its Avatar and its seal the redness and the horror of blood” (Edgar 1). The tone in the lay story beggar woman of Locarno is similar to the one above; this is due to the frightening mood that is present in the spacious room.

The genre of the play “The Masque of the Red Death” is a literary fiction; this is due to the fact that all throughout the play, there is a gothic feeling that makes everything look threatening and scary to the reader. There is no instant in the play that the reader is comfortable with; even the Prospero looks a bit disturbed, thus, putting the reader on a horrific feeling. Finally, the play is highly unusual and most parts are experimental, thus, making this work a literary fiction. This story is more focuses on the setting and the atmosphere rather than the characters or the plot; on the other hand, in genre of the story “The Beggar Woman of Locarno” is a short fiction and a ghost story. The play has short fiction. It is such as fiction for a castle that is in the Northern Italy to have fallen into the disuse and ruins. It is not clear what was the reason behind the collapse of this castle; in addition, it is geographically not normal for a traveler who is descending into the northern Italy from the St. Gotthard pass to note a castle ruin. The genre of the ghost story in the play is seen when the noble man and Marquis complain about the room being invaded by something which was not observable.

Symbolism and Imagery are the traits present in both stories. In “The Masque of the Red Death”, the clock that is defined as big, black and creepy is positioned in the black room, thus, symbolizing death. It clearly symbolizes the momentary of "the Time that flies" (Edgar 4).  The seven colored rooms’ men are also a symbolism; the black and red rooms also represent death.  The suite is an allegory of soul life and each, and every other room that are arranged from east to the west refer to the stages of life. The title itself is imagery of one frightening dream and all the activities in the play are too incredible to be real.

In the story “The Beggar Woman of Locarno”, symbolism is evident in the bundle of straw.  The bundle of straw was thrown in the old woman. This symbolizes the class difference between the Marquis and the old woman. The old woman was poor, whereas the Marquis and his people were rich, as it they were staying at the castle. The war and the poor harvest that happened with Marquis some years after the death of the old woman symbolizes the inhuman actions to the old sick woman by the Marquis. Finally, the fire that caused the death of Marquis symbolizes the punishment for treating poor people in a manner that was inappropriate (Heinrich 1).

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