The Masque of the Red Death Questions and Answers
by Edgar Allan Poe

The Masque of the Red Death book cover
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Describe what the disease the "Red Death" does to its victims.

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At the beginning of the story, Poe explains that the disease known as the "Red Death" has "long devastated the country" and that no disease has ever been "so fatal, or so hideous." He then describes the consequences of the disease for its victims. These consequences include "sharp pains, and sudden dizziness, and then profuse bleeding at the pores." He also says that the disease results in "scarlet stains " upon the bodies and faces of its victims. It is because of these "scarlet stains" that the disease is named the "Red Death." Poe further explains that the aforementioned consequences of the disease endure for "half an hour."

Toward the end of the story, the disease becomes manifest in the form of a tall, mysterious, masked and robed figure. Upon the mask of the figure there are red splotches, resembling those "scarlet stains" which are characteristic of the disease. The guests in the abbey recoil in fear from this mysterious figure, and Prospero, the main character in the story, chases the figure through every room in the abbey. When he finally confronts the figure, Prospero drops dead. The final line of the story ("And Darkness and Decay and the Red Death held illimitable dominion over all") implies that all of Prospero's guests also then succumb to the disease.

Thus, from the story's conclusion, we can infer that as well as the "scarlet stains," the "dizziness," and the "bleeding at the pores" described at the beginning of the story, the disease also results in fear and, ultimately, death.

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