How does the masked ball end in Poe's "The Masque of the Red Death"?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Through the use of arabesque, the characters of Poe's "The Masque of the Red Death," move forward, then double back to only move forward to another room in their grotesque revelries. Thus, there is also an exotic decadence that imposes itself upon the scenes of Prince Prospero's fortress. 

Be sure they were grotesque. There were much glare and glitter and piquancy and phantasm.... There were arabesque figures with unsuited limbs and appointments. There were delirious fancies such as the madman fashions.

The last image that appears before Prince Prospero is that of the skeletal figure of Death who has come for him. Then, when Prospero's eyes fall upon this spectre, he begins to shake. In his fearful anger, Prospero rushes the figure and attempts to attack the fearful interloper with a knife; however, the knife falls from Propero's fingers, and he falls "prostrate in death." When the guests attempt to apprehend the Prince's murderer, they find instead "the grave-cerements and corpse-like mask," only the costume and the mask with no human form on which they have resided. The Red Death has won.

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The Masque of the Red Death

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