|Ceri B. (ceri) wrote,|
@ 2009-10-01 02:17 pm UTC
|Entry tags:||horror month 2009|
"The Masque of the Red Death" is one of Poe's more famous stories, and with good reason. It really lives up to his dictum that everything in a short story should build toward a single effect. What I want to call attention to today is this particular paragraph:
It was in this apartment, also, that there stood against the western wall, a gigantic clock of ebony. Its pendulum swung to and fro with a dull, heavy, monotonous clang; and when the minute-hand made the circuit of the face, and the hour was to be stricken, there came from the brazen lungs of 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, momentarily, in their performance, to hearken to the sound; and thus the waltzers perforce ceased their evolutions; and there was a brief disconcert of the whole gay company; and, while the chimes of the clock yet rang, it was observed that the giddiest grew pale, and the more aged and sedate passed their hands over their brows as if in confused reverie or meditation. 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.
That is really, really well-observed. Several people on my friends list have described precisely that reaction to a variety of circumstance just recently, of being affected in ways they wish they wouldn't be and trying to recover to it. Poe doesn't do much in the way of individual characters, but he does people quite well indeed.