The Masque of The Red Death by Matt Bottos

Mixed Media – 40cm x 40cm – February 2011

This would have to be one of my favorite Edgar Allen Poe Short Stories. Aside from being a ‘wicked cool’ story about blood and horror stuff, it always seems to incite a deeper emotional response. The story is ripe with potential metaphors and I’m sure each person will see their own meanings in it. Each time I read it, I find it seems to relate to something different each time although there always seems to be a common underlying theme that relates to Denial, Escapism & Avoidance.

A few thoughts on the story…

- Prince Prospero lived in denial. A secluded life within a false existence governed by a fear that he refused to confront. There were many warnings but he chose to ignore them. He surrounded himself with people that would not challenge his views. When he was confronted / challenged by his fear & weakness he became enraged.

- The window in the black room bathes all within in the colour of blood (death) and represents how distorted thoughts can exacerbate the emotion of fear. The window filters the outside light (reality) and taints all within the black room with its dread inducing (deluded) crimson hue.

- The tall ominous ebony clock with its haunting chime is a constant reminder to the guests of their denial. Each hourly chime sends a unnerving warning yet they choose to not take heed of the warning and continue with their revelry.

- Looking at it from a Jungian perspective, the Red Death may be seen as a projection of Prospero’s own shadow aspect. The denial or rejection of the shadow archetype only strengthens its hold to the extent where the conscious life is like living a lie. If we embrace and take responsibility of our inferior side we can live a fuller and true life.

- In the end, I don’t think Prospero was killed by the Red Death that he feared so much. He bore none of the symptoms of the plague and the masked figure was said to be “untenanted by any tangible form”. Perhaps his death was the outcome of his own denial and fear rather than the object of his fear itself.

I wonder if Edgar Allen Poe saw elements of himself in Prospero? And that perhaps the masked figure was in fact a projection of Poe’s own shadow. In some way perhaps he felt as though he was a self imposed prisoner locked away and trapped, protecting himself from his fears.

I have absolutely no pleasure in the stimulants in which I sometimes so madly indulge. It has not been in the pursuit of pleasure that I have periled life and reputation and reason. It has been the desperate attempt to escape from torturing memories, from a sense of insupportable loneliness, and a dread of some strange impending doom. (Poe as quoted in a Biography by Jeffery Meyers).


  • MelissaRaquel
    MelissaRaquelabout 4 years ago

    One of my favorites as well! I love the spooky tree through the window and of course the use of RED! Nice job Matt and as always your words are quite special and inspirational.

  • thanks melissa!

    – Matt Bottos

  • Rikki Woods
    Rikki Woodsabout 4 years ago

    Fantastic work Matt. I love almost anything Poe. Have images of him hanging in my office and have Living Dead dolls. You’ve made him proud here. :)

  • thanks rikki… if EAP was about today I think he’d be a headbanger ;)

    – Matt Bottos

  • bushpoet
    bushpoetabout 4 years ago

    Awesome work Matt, really love this interpretation of Edgar Allen Poe’s story. Great to see your mind at work again! :)

  • thanks mate :)

    – Matt Bottos

  • Tony Ryan
    Tony Ryanabout 4 years ago

    i agree that there are a great variety of messages in this story. For me initially it re inforces that true freedom is accessed through depth rather than denial. Also that surrounding ones self with subservient people is self desrtuctive. I believe that each human has the capacity to create their own lives. However if we allow fear to drive us we lose connection to our hearts and to strength and freedom.

  • Zombie Rust
    Zombie Rustabout 4 years ago

  • Matt Bottos
    Matt Bottosabout 4 years ago

    Back from the framers…

  • Luis Ferreiro
    Luis Ferreiroabout 4 years ago

    I’m not familiar with the Masque of red death! But awesome work…. Looks great framed up.

  • thanks Luis! Hope you are well

    – Matt Bottos

  • mrdustin
    mrdustinalmost 4 years ago

    nice work dude i know you dont know me but im like the worlds biggest fan of EAP and this is like by far like one of the best pictures i have seen yet keep it up

  • wow … thanks heaps MrDustin! That’s an awesome compliment. I really appreciate it :) Ive got a few other EAP influenced things I’d like to work on. What are your fav stories?

    – Matt Bottos

  • Thomas Acevedo
    Thomas Acevedoalmost 4 years ago

    matt I have been away from your art to long, and have missed this , i love the story and thankyou for bringing Poe more to my attention , i love the quote, you know why it seems more than appropriate to me . thank you for your vision and open heart and mind and imagination , it is a gift that you have for sure, mixed in some of you work with life , romance and the struggles of the spirit ,
    great to know you here and see your work as always .

  • jatro
    jatroover 3 years ago

    Oh, this is sweet, Matt, Neat and beautiful! :)

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