The Masque of the Red Death



Cover of this title
The Masque of the Red Death
Edgar Allan Poe

A Gothic short story about the inevitability of death, emphasising that in death everyone is equal. The fearless and happy prince Prospero celebrates opulent masquerade balls with many other nobles while outside his thick castle walls the Red Death rages and carries off the less fortunate. In the story, Prospero set up seven different coloured rooms to entertain his guests in the order of blue, purple, green, orange, white, violet, and black. The black room is illuminated by a scarlet red window and a large ebony clock chimes every full hour making everyone pause their dancing until the last chime fades. At midnight, a stranger appears in the blue room seemingly from nowhere. He wears a blood-stained funeral shroud and a mask resembling the face of a corpse showing all the traits of the Red Death. In rage about this inappropriate costume, Prospero pursues him through six chambers into the seventh ready to stab him instead the story culminates in a most fatal realisation.

· · 1842

Critical edition

Poe, Edgar Allan. "The Masque of the Red Death." The Portable Edgar Allan Poe, pp. 37-42, Penguin Classics, 2006. 6 pp., ISBN 9780143039914

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In favour of this entry

  • Charged with meaning
  • Classic
  • Recommended by a federal state: Rhineland-Palatinate

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