Comment the significance of the line "The prince had provided all of the pleasures" in "The Masque of the Read Death."Full Quote:  "The external world could take care of...

Comment the significance of the line "The prince had provided all of the pleasures" in "The Masque of the Read Death."

Full Quote:  "The external world could take care of itself....In the meantime it was folly to grieve or to think. The prince had provided all the appliances of pleasure."

Asked on by miret

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pmiranda2857's profile pic

pmiranda2857 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

The Prince, like many wealthy, royal or aristocratic people, believe that the plague is a disease of the poor or the masses of people who live in close quarters, in squalor.  He feels separate from it, both physically and emotionally.  There is some truth to the statement, during outbreaks of plague, there was nothing anyone could do to help those who were afflicted.  It was tragic, really, because there was no medicine or treatment and it was highly contagious.

The fact that Prince Prospero has secluded himself in the country, away from the town and the infection, the disease, is normal behavior for someone of his stature.  The folly in this statement refers to the uselessness of grieving for something that one has no control over, like death, especially death brought by the plague.  The party is typical also of royal or rich people, enjoying life, while the poor and stricken suffer. 

Poe is telling the reader a stark truth, death does indeed come for each of us, and no one knows when that time will come.  The idea that Prince Prospero believed that he could escape the inevitable, is pure folly. 

parkerlee's profile pic

parkerlee | Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted on

Implied in this statement is the smug attitude that if something doesn't affect you personally, it doesn't matter. The fact that others may suffer is not even taken into consideration. This spirit of elitism and self-sufficiency led Prince Prospero to create his own little microcosm of comfort instead of dealing with the greater problem at hand - his country besieged by plague. The "folly to grieve" statement is of course ironic by nature, as in the end the prince and his guests paid the full price for their narcissism and indifference. Death, universal and non-partial by nature, came to them in the disguise of an uninvited guest and declared 'the party over.'

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