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Vision of “The Masque of the Red Death” as a Play

This essay is about edgar allen poes short story “The Masque of the Red Death.” I wrote this essay on what I would do if i had to turn this story into a play.

Vision of ?The Masque of the Red Death? as a Play

Edgar Allen Poe is known to create admirable horror stories. If any of these stories were to be formed into a play, I am sure it would be a success. If ?The Masque of the Red Death? were formed into a play and I were in charge of costumes, set design and special effects I would create the mood of terror.
Costumes is the first element discussed to create the mood of terror. This element first appears in the narrator?s statement, ?He [Prospero] disregarded the decora of mere fashion? (pg.80). This quotation allows me to portray an unusual image of Prospero. Therefore, in the play Prospero will be dressed with jewels that are embedded into his faintly-hued clothes. These jewels will emit a dull glow because his clothes will be very bright. He will wear black pants with his knee high red socks, a loose dark green shirt with an orange vest on top, a bright yellow tie and black high heel shoes. He will also wear a small gray cap with the picture of a skull on it. The second set of costumes are those of the masqueraders. The narrator says, ?it was his own guiding taste which had given character to the masqueraders. Be sure they were grotesque? (pg.81). To present these masqueraders as grotesque, I will dress the females with long ballroom dresses. These dresses will range in colors from violet, mahogany, brown, and black. To promote the mood of terror, I will add symbols of death such as daggers soaked with blood or graveyard onto their masks. The males will receive long dark black pants with bright red loose shirts and their masks will hold lifeless expressions. The final example occurs when the uninvited guest enters in Prospero?s castle. The narrator describes him as, ?shrouded from head to toe in the habiliments of the grave.? and with a, ?mask ?concealed the visage was made so nearly to resemble the countenance of a stiffened corpse? (pg.82). Through this quotation I will prepare a costume for the uninvited guest by sewing many rags together in order to provide him with the ?habiliments of the grave.? These rags will range from dull colors of black, gray, brown, and white and will consist of many holes and pieces of grass. His mask will be covered with mud to give the audience the impression he has arrived from outside. The mask will also be made to exactly fit the actor?s face, so that it may be assumed that the mask is the face. The costumes that I will use will convey the message to the audience that these are strange and ghostly characters.

Set design is another element used to create the mood of terror. The example of set design is first found during the beginning of the story from the description of the country?s situation. The narrator says, ?long devastated the country? scarlet stains upon the body and especially upon the face of the victim? (pg.78). The situation of the country in this story is very serious and this will also be projected on the stage. I will use green and brown construction paper to create the dead leaves and grass. Some broken parts of cars or just junk I will get from a junkyard. These will be thrown around the stage to make it seem as if the country is devastated. There will be fires still burning. Buildings, and houses will be dilapidated or shattered. Broken glass pieces will be put around the houses to show the amount of wreckage done. Finally I will lay fake animals and humans that seem to look dead on the ground and some clothing will be spread out across the dead grass and leaves. The second example of set design is the abbey. The narrator describes it as, ?an extensive and magnificent structure? A strong and lofty wall girdled it in. This wall had gates of iron? (pg. 78). Stacking bricks and gray colored cardboard will create this wall. The wall will be very tall and wide. Also, the wall will have gates of iron and the inside of the abbey will be painted a dull gray color. The last quotation for this element appears in the description of the seventh room. The narrator describes the seventh room as being:

?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 colors of
the windows failed to correspond with the decorations.
The panes here were scarlet- a deep blood color? But
in the western or black chamber the effect of the firelight
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 the precincts at all? (pg.79-80).

This quotation shows me how the author felt the seventh room must be decorated. For the seventh room, I will paint the walls red and the decorations on the walls will be portraits of dead or mourning people. The door of this room will be black, have a gruesome face carved into it and splatters of blood dripping from it and the walls. The carpet will be black and the edges will be brown. This room will store pictures of the devil and bottles that keep organs and body parts. Skulls will be plastered across the walls. Also the room will consist of an odor of rotten eggs. Through these set designs the audience will gain a better understanding of the story.

Special effects is the final element discussed to create the mood of terror. An example of special effects appears during the ball when the gigantic clock of ebony rings every hour. The narrator says, ?there came from 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? (pg.80). For a greater impact on the sound made by the clock of ebony, I will place a clock in every room. This means that each clock will ring at a different time but each one will ring one after the other, every 15 minutes. The sound of the clocks will gradually become louder. Another example of special effects is from the lighting of the seven rooms. The narrator explains, ?corridors that followed the suite, there stood, opposite to each window, a heavy tripod, bearing a brazier of fire that projected its rays? (pg.80). For the lighting on the stage I will provide one huge brazier, which will create an orange glow to all the rooms. Also, a disco ball will be placed at times when the masqueraders are dancing. It will stop every time the ebony clock rings. The spotlights on the actors will change colors depending on the situation. Finally, the last example of special effects occurs at the end of the story. The narrator says, ?a sharp cry- and the dagger dropped gleaming?(pg.83). The use of the dagger suggests the use of other props. I believe the other characters do not need props but the uninvited guest does. Therefore if the uninvited guest were to have more than one weapon he would be seen as a really dangerous man. Special effects give detail to the play to make it more enjoyable.

The idea of forming Edgar Allen Poe?s short story ?The Masque of the Red Death? into a play with the help of the elements, costumes, set design, and special effects in order to achieve the mood of terror is wonderful because it captures the audience?s interest.

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