Fortunato Falcone is Mateo’s ten-year-old son. His father regards him as “the hope of the family.” The name Fortunato, meaning ”the Fortunato one,” reflects his father’s pride. Before the wounded Gianetto appears at the family home, Fortunato had been daydreaming about the meal that he is to eat with his wealthy uncle in Corte in a few days. Fortunato shows little human feeling towards the hunted Gianetto and agrees to hide him only when bribed with a piece of silver. When Tiodoro offers him a watch in exchange for information about Gianneto, Fortunato eyes it ”just as a cat does when a whole chicken is offered to it” and gives away the bandit’s hiding place. On the other hand, once he has divulged Gianetto’s hiding place, Fortunato returns the silver.
Giuseppa is the wife of Mateo Falcone and the mother of Fortunato. . . . Read More
“Mateo Falcone” is set in Corsica in the seventeenth century in the region of Porto-Vecchio, which is midway between the town of Corte and the maquis, the wild country of the Corsican highlands where outlaws and misfits find refuge from law and authority. Mateo Falcone, a forty-eight-year-old father of three married daughters and one ten-year-old son, is a successful sheep rancher. He sets off to gather his flock one afternoon. His wife, Guiseppa, accompanies him, and they leave their son, Fortunato alone.
Fortunato daydreams in the autumn sun. He anticipates going into town in a few days to have dinner with his uncle, a local notable, or ”corporal.” Suddenly, gunshots echo from nearby. On nearby path, a wounded man appears. He has been shot in his thigh. Seeing Fortunato, he asks whether the boy is the son of Mateo Falcone. He introduces himself as Gianetto Sanpiero, the implication being that he has a tie to Falcone and thus a right to expect . . . Read More
Edgar Allan Poe’s short story “The Masque of the Red Death” may be interpreted variously as a parable for man’s fear of death, a moral tale with biblical implications, or the delusional vision of a madman waging an internal battle for his own sanity. Depending on each of these interpretations, the narrator may be identified as a personification of Death, a divine being or an insane individual.
Death and Time
“The Masque of the Red Death” can be interpreted as an allegorical tale about the folly of human beings in the face of their own inevitable deaths. If the Red Death symbolizes death in general, then the Prince’s attempt to escape the pestilence, in “defiance of contagion,” is symbolic of the human desire to defy death. Prince Prospero attempts to create a fortress that will be impervious to the Red Death, providing his guests “all the appliances of pleasure” as a . . . Read More
Three of the most important women in Poe’s life died of tuberculosis. Although the ”pestilence” in the story “Masque of the Red Death” is not defined, it seems reasonable to assume that it is inspired in some ways by Poe’s experience with tuberculosis. The distinguishing mark of the “Red Death” is profuse bleeding, just as the distinguishing sign of tuberculosis is the coughing up of blood. According to Britannica Online, tuberculosis, often referred to in literature as “consumption,” is “one of the great scourges of mankind.” The disease “reached near-epic proportions” in industrializing urban areas in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. During this time, it was ”the leading cause of death for all age groups in the Western world.”
Much of Poe’s writing can be . . . Read More
Allegory and Parable
“The Masque of the Red Death” is considered an allegorical tale; this means that the literal elements of the story are meant to be understood as symbolic of some greater meaning. Britannica Online explains that an allegory “uses symbolic fictional figures and actions to convey truths or generalizations about human conduct or experience.” More specifically, this story may be read as a parable, a sub-category of allegory in which, according to Britannica Online, “moral or spiritual relations are set forth.”
As a parable, “Masque of the Red Death” is symbolic of how humans respond to the knowledge of their own mortality. The reaction of Prince Prospero and his “thousand friends” to the presence of the Red Death is an attempt to use their material privileges in order to escape the inevitability of their own deaths. But the fact that the ”masked . . . Read More
While this story is literally about a pestilence called the Red Death, it can be read at an allegorical level as a tale about man’s fear of his own mortality. In the story, Prince Prospero and his “thousand friends” seal themselves into an abbey of his castle in an attempt to “defy contagion” and escape the clutches of the Red Death. The Prince employs ”all the appliances of pleasure” in order to distract his guests both from the suffering and death outside their walls and from thoughts of their own vulnerability to the Red Death. The Prince’s actions symbolize the ways in which all humans tend to focus on material pleasures in order to distract themselves from the knowledge that everyone, including themselves, eventually must die.
The fact that the Red Death slips in ”like a thief in the night” to claim the lives of everyone present symbolizes the fact that no one, . . . Read More
The Masked Figure
The “masked figure” that appears at Prince Prospero’s costume ball is the most illusive “character” in the story. Upon the stroke of midnight, the guests first notice this “masked figure,” who is “tall and gaunt, and shrouded from head to foot in the habiliments of the grave,” and looks like the corpse of a body afflicted by the Red Death, its face “besprinkled with the scarlet horror.” Prince Prospero orders that the figure be unmasked and hanged at dawn, but his guests refuse to unmask him. The figure then retreats through all seven rooms of the abbey, pursued by Prince Prospero. When the figure reaches the seventh room, it turns to face the Prince, who falls instantly to his death. When the guests rush to seize the figure, they find that, beneath the corpse-like costume, there is no ”tangible form.” The masked figure turns out to be The Red Death . . . Read More
Poe’s story “The Masque of the Red Death” begins with a description of a plague, the ”Red Death.” It is the most deadly plague ever, as “no pestilence had ever been so fatal, or so hideous.” The symptoms of the plague include “sharp pains, and sudden dizziness, and then profuse bleeding at the pores.” The “scarlet stains” on the body, and especially the face, of its victims are the ”pest ban” or first visible signs of the disease. Once the stains appear, the victim has only thirty minutes before death.
In order to escape the spread of the plague, Prince Prospero invites “a thousand hale and lighthearted friends from among the knights and dames of his court” to seal themselves “in deep seclusion” in an abbey of his castle, allowing no one to enter or leave. With adequate provisions, Prospero and his privileged guests attempt to ”bid defiance to contagion,” by . . . Read More
Over the last twenty years, the general development of scholarship about women’ s lives and art parallels an unprecedented flowering of creative writing by American Indian women. But in view of these parallel developments, American Indian women have shown little interest in the feminist movement, and conversely mainstream feminist scholarship has paid strikingly little attention to the writing of American Indian women.
Leslie Silko’s Storyteller (1981), a product of this literary florescence, has remained virtually undiscussed as a whole by critics of any stamp. With its emphasis on women tradition bearers, female deities, and its woman author’s personal perspective, Storyteller seems to ask for a feminist critical treatment….
Particularly applicable to Silko’s Storyteller are feminist critical strategies to reclaim as legitimate literary subjects, women’s experience and female mythic power. Sandra M. Gilbert sees this . . . Read More
Her work widely anthologized, Leslie Marmon Silko is considered the preeminent Native American woman novelist, a legend in her achievements in the field of Native American literature. Her writings are included in the syllabus of various American literature courses in high schools and colleges. Raised on the Indian reservation in Laguna, New Mexico, she incorporates into her writing the stories, myths, and legends she heard as she grew up. Of Pueblo, Mexican, and white descent, she was both an insider and outsider in Laguna, and this makes her an interesting chronicler of stories about modern-day life on the reservation. In an interview she has stated: ”Oral literatures of the indigenous populations worldwide contain (these) kind of valuable insights…. You can look at the old stories that were told among the tribal people here in a north country and see that within them is the same kind of valuable lessons about human behavior and that we need them still.” In the . . . Read More