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How does the story end in "The Masque of the Red Death" by Edgar Allan Poe?

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ambernicolee420 | eNotes Newbie

Posted September 3, 2013 at 8:53 PM via web

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How does the story end in "The Masque of the Red Death" by Edgar Allan Poe?

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litteacher8 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted September 3, 2013 at 9:23 PM (Answer #1)

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The story “The Masque of the Red Death” ends when Death crashes the party and kills all of the guests.

The story is about Prince Prospero, a wealthy royal who spends more time worrying about himself than his kingdom.  Since the “Red Death,” a terrible plague, is wasting away his kingdom, he decides to lock himself and his courtiers away inside his caste where no one can hurt him.  They have a masquerade ball, enjoying themselves within the lavishly decorated halls while their people die outside.

At the end of the party, an uninvited guest arrives.  He is dressed like the Red Death, which the prince finds improper and insulting.  He demands that the guest account for himself.  Unfortunately, the prince’s hubris is his downfall.  The visitor is Death personified.

And now was acknowledged the presence of the Red Death. He had come like a thief in the night. And one by one dropped the revellers in the blood-bedewed halls of their revel, and died each in the despairing posture of his fall.

The prince dies.  All of the party guests die.  They have succumbed to their greed.  It was their own shortsightedness and vanity that was their doom, because they all gathered in one place and made themselves an easy target.

With this story, Poe sends a clear message to the rich and powerful.  Those with the means to do something have an obligation to do it.

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