English 117 Humanity 3 - Humanity In Judaism there is a...

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Humanity In Judaism, there is a tradition of changing one’s name when one undergoes a serious illness. This is supposed to confuse the “Angel of Death” so that the stricken individual is spared. However, this is not the same as hiding behind a “masque.” The Prince and the aristocracy do not change themselves, but rather hide themselves. The difference between “hiding” and “changing” is essential to the story of the Masque of the Red Death . In the biblical story of Jonah, Jonah tries to run and hide from the responsibilities that God gave him. Though he uses all of his faculties, Jonah cannot the omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent God. Similarly, no human is immune to death, disease, war, famine, or stress: is it inevitable and inescapable. As Camus describes in his take on the Myth of Sisyphus, we are all subject to the essential tragedy of life. We are just as condemned as Sisyphus, who would roll a boulder up a mountain, only to have it roll down upon reaching the zenith (Camus). However, “one must imagine Sisyphus happy,” for he accepted his “struggle […] towards the heights” (Camus), unlike the Prince and his followers, who tried desperately to resist the struggle. When the “Red Death” “devastated [the Prince’s] country” (Poe, 212) and left his “dominion […] half depopulated” (Poe, 212) the Prince was left with few options. Instead of facing the plague head-on, the Prince “summoned to his presence a thousand [of his] friends” (Poe, 212), and hid away in the “deep seclusion of one of his castellated abbeys” (Poe, 212). For the Prince, the physical removal from the infested land was not sufficient protection, and he needed to ensure that there was no “means neither of ingress or egress” (Poe, 212) to or from the castle. Thus, the “iron”
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(Poe, 212) castle gates were “welded [shut with] bolts” (Poe, 212). The Prince prepared himself physically for battle, making sure “the abbey was amply provisioned” (Poe, 212), in hopes that his barrier would protect him from the uncontrollable atrocities outside and fortify his lifeblood, and the lifeblood of his friends, as his subjects perished.
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