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. Terror is the highest level of fear. Poe employs anaphora, repeating the word “through” at the beginning of each phrase as the figure walks through each room. Wine and other forms of alcohol are frequently depicted as instruments of distraction in literature, capable of silencing lingering worries or fears. If he'd chosen black, he could have just gone with the "black death," (i.e., the bubonic plague that ravaged Europe in the 14th and 17th centuries – see more below) instead of having to invent his own plague. For a heart to beat feverishly implies that the heart rate is accelerated. This line foreshadows that revelation as it specifies that the masquerade is happening at night and that the “night is waning away,” establishing the destination as midnight, which marks the end of one day and the beginning of the next. This description serves to estrange the physical body by casting it as an uncontrollable source of anxiety rather than a comfortable constant, enhancing the horror elements of the story. The phrase “Out-Heroded Herod” refers to exaggerated portrayals of evil characters in stage performances. It was in this apartment, also, that there stood against the western wall, a gigantic clock of ebony. For the blood to have transferred to the “halls” speaks to the massive scale and violent nature of the deaths of Prospero’s friends. Attendees of masquerades often used the anonymity provided by their masks to express risky political opinions or behave inappropriately. This wall had gates of iron. Terror is the result of the imagination being put in conflict with reality, where people must decide whether to trust their own senses or not. Though “The Masque of the Red Death” casts death as gruesome and villainous, it also highlights the foolishness of those who try to escape it. Death is no longer a vague threat from outside but has instead materialized as a guest at the party. The adjective “castellated” refers to a structure with battlements, or slots that arrows can be shot through. Prior to entering to castle, mortality and the marking off of each half hour were at the forefront of the public consciousness. Poe explicitly uses dream language when he describes them:There were arabesque figures with unsuited limbs and appointments. 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. 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. (The Tempest, Act 1, Scene 2, lines 437-439)Now is there any more to this connection than the similarity of "Red Death" and "red plague"? Though the narrator primarily uses red to represent death, its associations with blood and vitality serve to remind readers that life and death are irrevocably connected. 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. The idea of a “pestilence” transmitted through bloodlines becomes a potential criticism of the moral failings of the nobility, who tend to emphasize the importance of family lines and perpetuate classism. But it wouldn't be too much of a stretch to suspect the phrase gave Poe an idea, since there are other connections to The Tempest in the story as well.Most of the other connections are best explored by looking at the similarities between the Prosperos in the two works. “The Masque of the Red Death” oscillates between descriptions of unease and descriptions of revelry. Its associations with blood are likely what leads to this conflict, since blood is associated with both life and death.

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