Death Portrayals in Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘The Masque of the Red Death’: A Transtextual Study in Relation to the Holy Qur’an and Arabic Literary Heritage

Atef Adel Almahameed, Nusaiba Adel Almahameed, Reem Rabea, Imad-edden Nayif M A'leade Alshamare

Abstract


This paper is aimed at interpreting Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘The Masque of the Red Death’ (1842) and its portrayal of death in relation to the Holy Qur’an and Arabic literary heritage. This reading provides new insights into the understanding of the story. The paper argues that Poe’s story and its depictions of death allows for a transtextual analysis as it is based, for a significant extent, on stories from the Qur’an, the holy book of Islam, which informs of the inevitability of death. In addition, the anatomic study of the story investigates the influence of Arabic literary heritage and its role in arousing the writer’s imagination. Scholarly work notes that Poe’s story follows many traditions of gothic fiction and is often analysed as an allegory about the inevitability of death, though some critics advise against an allegorical reading. Apart from scholarly work on the story, the paper is purported at rereading the story and explores the transtextual connections and affiliations between the story’s portrayal of death and what Qur’an tells about death. There are striking moments of parallelism between the two sources on the notion of death although the story’s oriental and Islamic references to death shine implicitly through and never made explicit nor directly copy the Qur’anic verse or the Arabic literary sources. Therefore, the paper digs deeply into the story to explore how its representations of death are influenced and shaped by the Holy Qur’an and Arabic literary heritage

Keywords


Edgar Allan Poe, The Qur’an, Arabic, Intertextuality, Transtextuality

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7575/aiac.alls.v.9n.5p.84

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