What does the abbey represent in "The Masque of the Red death" by Edgar Allen Poe?

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ms-mcgregor | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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The abbey is described as being "castellated", which suggests that it might represent both government and religion that people often turn to for safety. As both a castle and an abbey, it is supposed to be a place where "the courtiers might bid defiance to contagion." The doors are even welded shut from the inside so no one can escape. However, it also is bizarre in its layout, especially the rooms in which the ball is held. Unlike most castles or abbeys, one cannot see what lies ahead because "There was a sharp turn at every twenty or thirty yards. . ." and each room in this part of the castle has a different color. Most critics suggest that the rooms each represent a different stage of life. With that in mind, the entire castle probably represents the life that many people think is safe and secure. Unfortunately, the courtiers learn that even when they feel the most safe, death is very close. No matter how satisfied they were that they could not be touched by catastrophe, death itself sought them out and killed them.

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