Week 11 Reading

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    Going through the readings for this week, it was shocking to me how easily I could connect to what was going on in regards to the outbreak narrative. Despite reading it before, I believe our current situation gave me a different perspective to Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Masque of the Red Death”. It was clearer to me that there is always someone who never fully grasps the extent to which a situation is, and eventually leads themselves, and sometimes others, into harms way. For instance, with Prince Prospero, his lavish living blinded him from fully understanding and heading to the issue at hand. As a result, being in that mindset for too long led to his downfall in the end, where the Red Death manifested before him before he had time to grasp what was going on.

    Similarly, I see that this same issue is occurring in today’s society. Despite the warnings and the constant conversations about self-isolation or social distancing, I’ve seen plenty of people openly talk about how the situation is being exaggerated and that they will not be affected. And even if their chances of contracting or dying are low, the most difficult reality to face is knowing that by choosing to take the risk, you are putting others who have a higher probability of not surviving at risk if you were to contract. I thought this was similar to Prince Prospero eventually bringing the Red Death to his friends in the party.

    In addition to this thought, the Defoe’s journal also gave me conflicting views. It was both interesting and frightening to think of the way the illness spread and the fluctuations it had with each of the different number of deaths logged. All together with Poe’s story, it made me realize that despite outbreak narratives being different for each new disease, there are forever lingering commonalities that link them together.


    I completely agree! It was shocking for me to have found myself relating so much to Poe’s story, with social media exposing so many people to their lack of social distancing. You used wonderful wording to describe this phenomena: that people are not fully grasping the extent of the severity of this COVID-19 outbreak. Instead, people choose to call it exaggerated and act as if they are invincible to such disease. In contrast however, I think it is important to note the great affect that media coverage has on society. While such precautions are completely necessary and greatly important, I can’t help but disagree with the way in which media coverage is instilling such panic and frenzy in the public. While fear is okay, I have found fake news to have played a major effect in the actions of society, rather than precautions taken on scientific facts about the virus from professionals.


    I really like the comparison you made between Poe’s “The Masque of the Red Death” and the current Coronavirus pandemic. People who are still going out in public and in large groups do not understand how severe the pandemic could become in these upcoming weeks. Likewise, the wealthy prince did not believe the “Red Death” was extremely dangerous. He should not have had a party in the abbey, rather they should have quarantines themselves with no large events. Furthermore, people who go out with large groups are putting their friends and families at great risk of COVID-19, just as the prince put his nobles at risk by allowing the “Red Death” to enter the abbey.

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