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Masque of the Red Death

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The Masque of the Red Death
By: Edgar Allan Poe

A terrible disease called the Red Death has struck the country. It's incredibly fatal, horribly gruesome, and it's already killed off half the kingdom. But the ruler of these parts, Prince Prospero, doesn't seem to care about his poor, dying subjects. Instead, he decides to let the kingdom take care of itself while he and a thousand of his favorite knights and ladies shut themselves up in a fabulous castle to have one never-ending party. Wine, women, music, dancing, fools – Prospero's castle has it all. After the last guest enters, no one else can get in – the Prince has welded the doors shut. That means no one can get out, either…

About five or six months into his stay, Prospero decides to have a spectacular masquerade ball (a ball where the guests where masks and costumes). The setup is weird and wild, just like the Prince who designs it. The ball takes place in a suite of seven rooms, each one dressed up in a different color: blue, purple, green, orange, white, violet, and black. The black room, which looks like death, is awfully creepy – it's got dark black walls, blood red windows, and big black clock which chimes so eerily every hour that everybody at the party stops dancing and laughs nervously. Most of the frolicking masqueraders are too weirded out to go into the black room.

Anyway, the party's in full swing and everybody's having a wild time when the clock strikes midnight. Everyone stops dancing and falls momentarily silent, as usual. Then some of the dancers notice a guest no one had seen before, wearing a scandalous costume. Whoever the new guest is, he's decided to dress as a corpse, a corpse who died of…the Red Death. He's so frighteningly lifelike (deathlike?) he freaks everybody out, and he slowly starts "stalking" through the frightened crowd. When Prince Prospero sees the ghostly guest, he's furious that someone would have the nerve to wear such a costume, and orders him to be seized and unmasked. But no one has the guts to do it, including Prospero himself.

The Red Death masquerader passes within a few feet of the Prince and starts to walk through the rooms, heading toward the black room. Prospero loses it and runs after him in a rage, drawing his dagger as he approaches. But just as Prospero reaches the edge of the black room, the corpselike guest suddenly whirls around to face him, and Prospero falls to the ground, dead. The shocked crowd throws itself at the guest, only to discover in horror that there's nothing underneath the mask and costume. The Red Death itself has come to the party. One by one the guests die, spilling their blood all over Prospero's lavish rooms. The candles go out, leaving only "darkness, decay, and the Red Death."

The Masque of the Red Death Plot
By: Edgar Allan Poe * A horrible disease called the Red Death is ravaging the countryside. It's a terrible way to die: shooting pains, seizures, bleeding from all the pores, and then death. And it all happens within half an hour. * Prince Prospero, the ruler of said kingdom currently being ravaged by the Red Death, is "happy" and "dauntless" and decides he doesn't want to bother with the disease. So he takes a thousand of his knights and maidens and shuts himself up with them in a hidden "castellated abbey" (that would be an abbey made over into a castle, with battlements). * The doors of the abbey are welded shut, so no one can get in. But no one can get out, either. * Prince Prospero is quite the party animal, and plans to have a good time while the rest of the world dies. * The abbey (which Prospero designed himself) is filled to the brim with all the makings of an incredible party: lots of food, jesters, dancers, musicians, and wine. * Five or six months after shutting himself up, Prince Prospero decides to have the biggest, weirdest masked ball anyone's ever seen. The narrator can't get over just how cool the setup is, and spends the next two pages raving about it. So, here's the setup: * The ball is set in a suite of seven rooms, which run from east to west. Unlike most suites, they don't form a straight line, but are at odd angles to each other. * Each room is a different color, too (thanks to a serious job on the wall hangings) – even the windows in the rooms are painted. The first room is blue, the second one purple, the third one green, the fourth one orange, the fifth white, the sixth violet. * The seventh room is particularly interesting. It's hung entirely in black velvet, but the windows aren't black: instead, they're a deep blood red color. Mwahahaha…how ghoulish. * As for the lighting? The windows of the rooms open on to a corridor, and the candles are actually put in the corridor, so the light can stream through the windows into the rooms. * This lighting makes the black room so creepy that almost no one dares to go in. * In the black room there's also an enormous black clock. * The clock chimes at every hour with a note so strange that all the masqueraders are put on edge and stop whatever they're doing when they hear it, even the musicians. After the clock finishes, they all laugh nervously and go back to partying. * After describing the duke's designs, the narrator admits that our man Prospero's a little on the odd side. So odd, in fact, that you might think he was insane, though his friends don't think so. But he does know how to throw one heck of a party. * The party is one wild good time – it feels like a fantasy land. The masqueraders look like "dreams" and "fantasms." General revelry for all. * The night wears on, and gradually the revelers get too nervous to even venture a foot into the black and red room. The other rooms are jam-packed with people. * Midnight arrives, and the clock strikes twelve eerie strokes. Everybody stops what they're doing, as usual. * Before the clock's done striking, some of the revelers start to notice a new guest has arrived, a guest who even in Prospero's crazy crowd seems to have gone just a little too far… * The new arrival is dressed like a corpse in a burial shroud, with a terribly convincing mask that looks just like a dead person's face. * If that were all, it wouldn't be such a big deal. But this guy's not just dressed like a corpse; he's dressed like someone who died of the Red Death. You can tell by the blood. * Prince Prospero catches sight of the "spectral image" (ghostly figure), who's walking slowly and deliberately through the crowd. His first reaction is terror, but then he gets mad. * Prospero demands to know who would dare to insult him so, and orders his guards to seize the guy in the Red Death getup, and unmask him – he'll be publicly hanged at sunrise. * No one has the courage to seize the guest. Including Prospero. * The Red Death masquerader passes right by Prince Prospero, who's in the blue room, and slowly makes his way from one room to another, heading towards the black room. Everybody shrinks away as he passes. * Now Prospero's angry enough to get over his nervousness. In rage, he draws a knife and runs after the ghostly figure in the Red Death getup. * Prospero passes from the blue room all the way down to the violet room, until he reaches the ghostly guest at the edge of the black room. * The Red Death masquerader suddenly turns around and faces Prospero, who drops his dagger and falls down. Dead. * Prospero's revelers, enraged enough to get over their fear, run into the black room and mob the masquerader. * As they rip at it, they're horrified to discover that there's nothing underneath the mask and shroud. Uh oh. You know what that means… * Everyone realizes that the Red Death itself has arrived at the party. * Slowly, one by one, each person starts contorting, bleeding, and dying. * The black clock dies too, and the candles go out… * "And Darkness and Decay and the Red Death held illimitable dominion over all"
The Masque of the Red Death Characters

Meet the Cast

Prince Prospero
Prince Prospero is a terrible ruler. All he seems to care about is pleasure, which is what it means to be a "hedonist." He doesn't want to spend his time doing anything but drinking, dancing, and laughing, and generally having fun. That makes him an awful ruler, because when the going gets tough, Prospero gets going. It makes him seem selfish too: he just doesn't care about the suffering of his people. He doesn't even want to think about it.
Prospero does not want to face death. He deliberately flees it with his followers and tries not to think about it at all, so he can revel in the good times. But his attempt to escape death is doomed to failure: everybody has to die eventually. Prospero's impossible attempt to ignore death and focus only on life's pleasures makes him a classic "fool" figure. Sadly, he learns his lesson the hard way at the end.

Prince Prospero Timeline and Summary * Prince Prospero is introduced as the ruler of the "dominions" ravaged by the Red Death. * Prospero reacts to the plague by fleeing to his "castellated abbey" with a thousand of his favorite knights and ladies. * About six months into his stay, Prince Prospero decides to throw an elaborate masquerade ball in a suite of seven colored rooms. He designed it himself, and it's so weird you might even think he was crazy. * Prince Prospero's masquerade is a huge hit. Then, at midnight, the Prince, who's hanging out in the blue room, sees a new face in the crowd. Oh the bad taste! Somebody is dressed up as a victim of the Red Death. * Prospero is outraged, and orders the guest to be seized and unmasked. But nobody has the courage to approach him, including Prospero himself. The strange and offensive guest just goes on making his way through the rooms. * Prospero finally gets up the courage. He draws his dagger and runs after the interloper. * Prospero reaches the Red Death masquerader at the edge of the black room. The masquerader whirls around to face him, and… * That's not a masquerader, that's actually the Red Death. Prospero dies.

The Red Death
The Red Death may just be the biggest party pooper of all time. He's Death embodied. It's not really clear just what he is, since there's no "tangible form" (touchable or solid form) underneath his costume. He doesn't seem to have any real motives besides bringing darkness and death wherever he goes. That may be why he's never invited to parties. But he always shows up, kills the host, and turns the whole thing into one deadly disaster.
He's not much of a talker. In fact, he doesn't say anything at all. When he shows up suddenly at midnight to Prospero's masquerade, he just starts slowly, silently "stalking" around, scaring people. He doesn't need to do anything to scare people; his "costume" is scary enough.
The Red Death is not popular with Prospero's friends, who have shut themselves up just to avoid it. They just can't get over their disgust that somebody could show such poor taste. Until the man in the Red Death costume kills Prospero, and gets mobbed and unmasked. Then it turns out he's not a guy in a costume, after all – he's the real Red Death.

The Red Death Timeline and Summary * The Red Death shows up at the masquerade ball at midnight, sharp. * We have no idea where he's come from, or how he got in. We don't even know that he's the Red Death yet. So far as we know he's just some guy dressed up in a Red Death corpse costume. Everybody else thinks this appearance is inappropriate. * The Red Death stalks around. Prince Prospero demands that he be seized and unmasked, but no one has the guts to follow the order. * The Red Death is unfazed and walks right by Prospero, making his way through the suite towards the black room. When he reaches the violet room, Prospero dashes off after him in pursuit, dagger drawn. * At the edge of the black room, the Red Death whirls around to confront Prospero, who promptly falls on the floor and dies. * A whole horde of other guests jumps the Red Death, but find when they rip of his mask and costume that there's nothing underneath. The guy in the Red Death costume is actually…the Red Death. * Everybody dies, the lights go out, and the Red Death holds dominion over all.

The Masque of the Red Death Plot
By: Edgar Allan Poe

Setting
The story is set in Prince Prospero's luxurious castle where they hid themselves there because the kingdom is struck by a plague. Everyone inside is having one big party.The story's main action takes place in an elaborate suite of seven colored rooms within the abbey, where Prospero holds the masquerade ball late at night. Where the Red death appears at midnight killed Prospero and his followers.
Initial Situation
It's the Red Death! To the castellated abbey, quick!
First, we meet the Red Death, the horrible, hideous, loathsome disease that's ravaging the countryside. Then we meet Prince Prospero, whose countryside and peasant folk it is that are being ravaged. Prince Prospero has retreated to his castellated abbey and shut himself in with his friends.
Conflict
Prospero throws a masquerade ball.
It's a ball, and what a ball it is! Prospero's decision to throw a masquerade ball is what kicks off the action of the story, and tension builds as we learn the details of the party. Every weird little thing we learn about – the strange layout of the suite, the ghastly look of the black room, the giant clock that ominously tolls the hour and makes everyone laugh nervously.
Complication
Begads, he's besprinkled with the scarlet horror!
A creepy new guest mysteriously shows up in a Red Death costume and starts stalking around. At midnight, no less. At this point, you can cut the tension with a knife. Everybody's scared, but it's uncertain as to what will happen. Prospero orders the guest arrested but nobody dares to take a step, including Prospero himself. The guest makes his way ominously to the black room…
Climax
Prince Prospero faces death…and dies.
Prospero's charge after the "spectral figure" brings the story to its highest moment of tension: the moment of epic confrontation, when the Red Death turns around to face Prospero. It doesn't last long, since Prospero falls down and dies immediately.
Suspense
Won't the real Red Death please stand up? Please stand up? Please stand up?
The suspense in this story literally lasts a sentence. Just long enough for the outraged revelers to discover that the guy in the Red Death costume who just killed their Prince is actually the Red Death. And he's still angry he wasn't invited to the party. We wonder how this situation will be resolved.
Denouement
Why do these halls suddenly look so blood-bedewed?
Everybody dies. And gets their blood all over Prospero's beautiful fabrics. The revelers die, the clock dies, the candles die, and the party's over. And so is the story.
Conclusion
"And Darkness and Decay and the Red Death held illimitable dominion over all"
The Masque of the Red Death Plot
By: Edgar Allan Poe

Setting
The story is set in Prince Prospero's luxurious castle where they hid themselves there because the kingdom is struck by a plague. Everyone inside is having one big party. The story's main action takes place in an elaborate suite of seven colored rooms within the abbey, where Prospero holds the masquerade ball late at night. Where the Red death appears at midnight killed Prospero and his followers.
Anticipation Stage
The Red Death ravages the countryside; Prospero flees to his castle getaway
We meet our "hero," Prospero, who somehow thinks that he can escape from the Red Death that's destroying his kingdom. He leads a retreat to his castellated abbey and locks himself and his 1,000 favorite knights and ladies inside. They're there to part. No dying is going to happen there any time soon.
Dream Stage
Prospero spends several months in his castle, and then puts on a masquerade ball.
Prospero's flight from the Red Death appears to be successful, and after several months he decides to throw one heck of a party. It's one big celebration of life and all its pleasures. And he ball is so strange that it does actually resemble a dream.
Frustration Stage
A guest appears at midnight, dressed as the Red Death
The appearance of the guest in the Red Death costume signals the start of trouble. Somebody has dared to remind all of Prospero's revelers of the horror from which they cannot escape. There is general disgust, fear, and outrage. This is the first suggestion that Prospero and his friends weren't able to escape the Red Death after all.
Nightmare Stage
Prospero orders the Red Death seized; no one moves
When Prospero orders the guest in the Red Death costume to be seized, no one does a thing – not even Prospero himself. He's lost control of the situation. The guest walks untroubled towards the black room.
Destruction or Death Wish Stage
Prospero charges after the Red Death, and dies, followed by everybody else
Prospero runs after what turns out to be the Red Death itself, and dies. His guests die too, after finding out for themselves, just what it is that has come to their masquerade. They were not able to escape the Red Death after all. How foolish they were to think they could.

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Symbolism In The Masque Of The Red Death

...In a story written by Edgar Allan Poe called “The Masque of the Red Death” we find that we can’t escape from all of our problems. The main characters name is Prince Prospero and he lives in a town that is being taken over by a disease called the Red Death. He doesn’t want to die from this disease and he doesn’t want his friends to die either, so he invites all of his friends into his castle and boards up all windows and doors so that no one could have access to the outside world. Little to their knowing this just insured their death. This story also uses many different examples of symbolism like how the masquerade ball represents how they are all hiding from the Red Death, how the clock at the end of all the rooms represents death, and how the the Red Death appeared in a person’s body but wasn’t really a person. One example of symbolism in “The Masque of the Red Death” is how the masquerade ball represents how all these people are hiding from the Red Death. This is symbolism because a masquerade ball is a party where everyone wears mask. The show that they wanted to hide from the Red Death because they didn’t want to die. The masks represent the castle in a way because they locked themselves in a castle to hide from the Red Death as well. Both the mask and the castle were...

Words: 578 - Pages: 3

Premium Essay

Symbols In 'Masque Of The Red Death'

...There are many symbols in the story, “Masque of the Red Death”. Some of these symbols include, the clock, the seven chambers, the red death, and the castle. The first symbol in the “Masque of the Red Death” I am going to address is the clock. The clock is located in the seventh chamber, and as a regular clock, chimes every hour. Every time the clock chimes, the partiers stop and think about death, and the fact that time will eventually run out. The clock represents that time is running out, and that death is coming. The second symbol in the “Masque of the Red Death” I will address are the seven chambers. Located in the castle itself, these chambers run from east to west. The chambers represent different stages of life, the chambers run from...

Words: 297 - Pages: 2