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In "The Masque of the Red Death"- What effect does the uninvited guest's presence have...

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chelseaawilsonn | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted September 11, 2011 at 7:34 AM via web

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In "The Masque of the Red Death"- What effect does the uninvited guest's presence have on the other guests?

Edgar Allan Poe's "The Masque of the Red Death"

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted September 11, 2011 at 9:47 AM (Answer #1)

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Prince Prospero plans an embellished and bold masquerade in an attempt to prevent the doom of the Red Death from reaching him and his courtiers as they revel in the seclusion of one of his "castellated abbeys." However, as the clock strikes twelve times on the hour of midnight there is an uneasiness among the guests as they detect the presence of a masked figure unfamiliar to any of them.  Throughout the chambers, a rumor, a buzz, surprise, terror, then, finally horror and disgust fills the chambers.  Even amongst such bizarre figures as the masked guests of Prince Prospero, this figure "out-Herolded Herod," and exceeded the bounds of the "prince's indefinite decorum."  For, this guest has exceeded "those matters of which no jest can be made."

The entire company of guests senses the insult to decorum of this uninvited guest.  For, he is as though shrouded for burial. His mask resembles the head of a cadaver.  Moreover, his vestment is dabbled in blood and his features "besprinkled with the scarlet horror."  It is this bloodied "vesture" that effects the greatest horror in the Prince's guests.  The terrified guests part and shrink back against the walls as this intruder makes his way through the various chambers to the Prince who has demanded to know "Who dares?"

After the Prince approaches with a drawn dagger, there is a cry and his dagger falls; instantly, the Prince lies prostrate in death.  Then, one-by-one the revelers in the "blood-bedewed halls of their reel," die in a desperate and despairing position as the falmes of the tripods go out and the clock strikes no more.

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