The Masque of The Red Death By Edgar Allan Poe: A Basic Analysis

Aditia Lestari
7 min readOct 14, 2020


  1. Summary

Once upon a time, a kingdom was hit by an epidemic called “The Red Death.” This terrible disease hit all corners of the land and killed half the population of that country. However, the prince, Prince Prospero, did not care about the deaths of his inhabitants. He locked himself in the palace for months and fortified it so that no one could enter, and those who were already inside could not come out. After five months in the palace, Prince Prospero threw a spectacular masquerade party. The prince arranged the party decorations in a unique and wild way. The dance hall is styled in 7 suites colors: Blue, Purple, Green, Orange, White, Violet, and Black. The final black room looked hideous and terrifying. The walls were dark, and the large clock ticked so that when the clock’s bell rang, the guests were silent laughing nervously. When the party is going well, all the guests are having fun. Suddenly they stop dancing and are silent for a moment because they see a guest who looks foreign, wearing a strange costume and looks chaotic. The guest looked like a mummy and wore a costume like a corpse that had suffered from “The Red Death”. Everyone is scared. When Prince Prospero saw the guest, he was very angry and ordered people to arrest him and take off his mask. But no one dared to do that. “The Red Death” was run over and was chased by the prince Prospero. Prince Prospero brought his dagger and passed through the rooms in the Ballroom until they arrived at the black room. When that person turned around and looked at Prospero, he then collapsed and died. All the guests panicked and one by one they caught the plague and died. Their blood spilled in Prospero’s luxurious palace.

2. What is the Red Death?

The Red Death is a disease. This causes the person to have sharp pain, sudden dizziness, and then to bleed from the pores. The Red Death was even worse. This caused massive destruction in Prince Prospero’s domain, costing them a huge loss of population.

3. Even though Prince Prospero is the Protagonist, he isn’t necessarily the “good guy.” Why is he still considered the protagonist? Is Prince Prospero a tragic hero, or a fool?

Prince Prospero is the protagonist in “The Masque of the Red Death” for several reasons. As the ruler of a country stricken by a deadly disease, he is the cause of the tragedy in the ballroom. He ignored his people, the prince invited a thousand people to the palace, in the hope the castle walls are protecting them from the disease. Another reason why he is the protagonist is that the story focuses on Prince Prospero, so he is the protagonist. The main character, Prince Prospero, is said to be a person who is very foolish with his attitude towards life, the kingdom, and other people. From the actions of Prince Prospero, we can conclude that he was both an arrogant person and a cruel ruler. He did not think about the suffering of his people. he just danced, drank, and had fun while the terrible “The Red Death” killed the innocent people in his country. In the end, Prince Prospero didn’t want to face death. He was indirect, trying to run away with his friends and trying not to think about the plague at all. But sadly, everyone has to die, sooner or later. And Prospero’s impossible attempt to avoid death is doomed to fail. His ignorance of the outside world and his focus solely on the pleasures of life made him a typical “fool.”

4. The meaning of: “The courtiers, having entered, brought furnaces and massy hammers and welded the bolts. They resolved to leave means neither of ingress or egress to the sudden impulses of despair or of frenzy from within.”

The palace was get built with a fairly sturdy structure designed to prevent a plague raging so that no one could break through the castle where Prince Prospero was staying. The castle was also get built to ensure that no one could escape or get out of the palace. The palace was not a safe place; This is a dark prison where Prince Prospero and his guests will be trapped.

But as has been explained, the palace is not just a palace of pleasure. Not just a dance palace, but also a cemetery. Prince Prospero and his feeble aristocrats could try to delay death only temporarily. And when the end comes, they will have the opportunity to die.

5. Why did Prince Prospero decide to confront the masked figure?

The appearance of the Red Death was so terrifying that it made Prince Prospero fearful either because it had become terror or his dislike for commoners, so he became angry. He asked the other people in the party to catch “The Red Death” and unmask him and kill him, but the people there didn’t dare move towards him, no one dared to touch him. This allowed the Red Death to walk closer to the prince and continue unhindered, so the prince, enraged by his guests’ reluctance and fear of his own, rushed towards the Red Death with a knife. Unfortunately, his courage ended in her own death, and then the deaths of all the other guests.

6. What does each of the chambers signify?

The seven chambers have different colors and they represent different things. The blue room represents the birth, newness fresh, exciting. The purple means the beginning of the growth. The green represents the youth, vitality, and growth. The orange represents adulthood, maturity, and vibrancy. The white suggests the old age of humans. The violet represents the looming death, and The black and scarlet chambers represent the death and fear

7. There is an emphasis on the most eastern chamber being blue and the most western being black velvet and red. Why might this be?

The chambers are arranged from west to east, symbolizing the progress of life. East denotes beginning and birth, for the sun rises in the east. The West, on the other hand, symbolizes the end and death, since the sun sets in the west.

8. “Prince Prospero rushed hurriedly through the six chambers when he was chased by The Red Death and ended up in the black chamber.”

This symbolizes how the journey of human life is depicted and symbolized by the 7 colors in this room. Starting from a human being born in the world in a blue room symbol. Humans who start to grow in purple, humans in their youth in the green room, humans who have grown up in the orange room, humans who are old and aging in a white room, humans who will face death in a violet room, and humans who face fear and death are symbolized by black room.

9. Why did Poe make an allusion to the play, Hernani?

In the sentence “There were much glare and glitter and piquancy and phantasm — much of what has been since seen in “Hernani.” This is the Allusion to Hernani, a French play written by Victor Hugo in the 1830s. Very theatrical, meaning it was an elegant and huge party.
Poe is describing the party and saying it resembles that of Hernani. The hernani drama also invited many people using red tickets to its loyal fans but in the end, the show ended in a fight because it turned out that not all of the viewers were people who liked romantic shows. As for this story, Prince Prospero invited many noble people to a masquerade party to cheer them up because of the plague that was happening outside. Instead of being spared by the plague, it turned out that the masquerade party contained an intruder who spread the plague, and finally everyone in the monastery died from a rapidly spreading plague.

10. What does the name of the Prince “ Prospero” signify

Prince Prospero’s name means prosperity or wealth. The word “Prospero” “Prospero” sounds like “prosperous”. By sacrificing his people, Prince Prospero tried to prosper. As a prince, Prospero was in charge of his kingdom. Prince Prospero described wealth as ignorance, selfishness, and pride.

11. The Theme

• Fear of Death

Prince Prospero and thousands of friends locked themselves away from the outside world at the Monastery. They were anxious and avoided the people affected by the plague, even the prince didn’t care about his own people. This was because he didn’t want to catch the disease and die. This fear of death made him arrogant and cruel to others. Though death eventually came to him.

• Foolishness

Their folly was feeling immortal and protected by the great high walls of the palace. They have fun when the world is in chaos. They forget themselves at a party and ignore the chaos and horror that endangers them until the foolishness finally kills them.

12. What was Poe trying to show about death?

Poe attempted to demonstrate the inherent fear in humans of death and the various means by which people avoid death or face death.

Prince Prospero: Prince Prospero represents a human being who is foolish, in order to escape the plague, he used his wealth and strength to exile himself and his friends from the Red Death. Then, finally got the Red Death and died.

Guests: the guests represent humans, the human crowd (society), or humanity

Uninvited: representations of death (especially The Red Death) who came to kill Prince Prospero and the other nobles.

This short story analysis aims to fill my Midterm Test. I consider putting these items here, in case someone needs this to view the analysis from another perspective or to compare and contrast the idea that Poe delivered to us. Basically, there are 21 questions that I already answer based on the task that my lecturer gave to me, but most of them are asking our opinion towards some issue regarding the particular event that occurred in the story and I bet that my point of view is too unpopular or too underrated and I guess that everybody should create their own. I’m also asked to draw the castle and the seven chambers that represent the ballroom and the symbolic of the life journey. Indeed, any idea, critic, question, or suggestion, the box is yours.