I'm stuck on writing a consolation for the "Masque of the Red Death."What type of things should be included in a note of consolation to a family member of one who attended the party in "Masque...

I'm stuck on writing a consolation for the "Masque of the Red Death."

What type of things should be included in a note of consolation to a family member of one who attended the party in "Masque of the Red Death"?

Expert Answers
mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Since the bubonic plague took place in the thirteenth century and Black Death took place in the seventeeth century, the reader may assume that the setting of Poe's "The Masque of the Red Death" somewhere in between as the masquerade ball was popular during the fifteenth century Renaissance, especially in Venice, Italy.  With the name of the prince as Prospero, the reader may assume that, indeed, Venice is part of the setting of Poe's story.

Since Italy was particularly hit badly by the Black Death, people began to dwell more on their lives on earth, while at the same time, so much death gave rise to increased piety. In Italy this piety was manifested by sponsorship of religious art.  So, with these facts in mind, a letter of consolation can take the perspective one of two ways:  the wonderful life that the individual did have while on the earth, or the spiritual aspect of the wealthy person's having sponsored a painter of religious art, etc.

It does seem, however, more consistent with the tone of the story that the individual who has died has probably been one who enjoyed his/her life while on earth; thus, celebrating this life with its accomplishments, beauty, family, etc. may be be best the content of the letter.

jdslinky eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In "The Masque of the Red Death" by Poe, a thousand people are invited to a party of revelry at the mansion of Prince Prospero as an alternative to the seclusion they've lived in because of the raging pestilence. Those who accepted the invitation were treated to "much of the beautiful, much of the wanton, much of the bizarre, something of the terrible, and not a little of that which might have excited disgust."

The mansion is set up as a place for revelers to enjoy themselves to the nth degree. However, in the midst of the celebration, death comes to the party and those who had been enjoying themselves are struck with fear and horror at what's about to befall them. The closing line "And Darkness and Decay and the Red Death held illimitable dominion over all," leads the reader to believe that all guests were killed.

A consolation letter to a family member or loved one of a guest of Prince Prospero's party might include details about the party as a way of reminding the loved one that the party was a joyful way to die. At least each guest was having a grand time up until the minute of his or her death.

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The Masque of the Red Death

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