In Edgar Allan Poe's The Masque of the Red Death, contrast life outside the palace with life inside.

Expert Answers
kipling2448 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The stark contrast between life inside and life outside the walls of Prince Prospero's castle is precisely the point of Edgar Allan Poe's short story The Masque of the Red Death. Poe's story is about a self-absorbed, narcissistic noble who seeks to shield himself and his friends off from the ravages of the plaque decimating the less-fortunate population outside the walls of his palatial estate. The contrast between life inside the walls and that occurring outside the walls is depicted vividly in Poe's narrative, as in the following passage:

". . .Prince Prospero was happy and dauntless and sagacious. When his dominions were half depopulated, he summoned to his presence a thousand hale and light-hearted friends from among the knights and dames of his court, and with these retired to the deep seclusion of one of his castellated abbeys. This was an extensive and magnificent structure, the creation of the prince’s own eccentric yet august taste. . .All these and security were within. Without was the 'Red Death'. "

This passage is all one needs to understand the vast distinctions between the haves and have-nots of the world Poe depicts. The prosperous but avaricious elites of this universe are so insular and arrogant as to believe that the walls that protect them from rocks and other objects that may be thrown their way by bitter, resentful peasants will also protect them from the disease that is spreading across the country killing everyone in its path. That belief, of course, is proven wrong as Prospero discovers to his dismay that the Death has, in fact, penetrated his physical barriers.

Read the study guide:
The Masque of the Red Death

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question