Ugo Betty has written " Every tiny part of us cries out against the idea of dying, and hopes to live forever." With regard to "The Masque of the Red Death," would Poe agree? 

Expert Answers
mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The "happy and dauntless and sagacious" Prince Prospero, who has "august taste," certainly is revolted by the idea of the Red Death claiming him.  His pride causes him to refuse to believe that he cannot defeat Death. 

Prince Prospero calls together his "light-hearted friends" and takes shelter in one of his "castellated abbeys."  There, they are sheltered by an extensive wall, the gates to which are welded shut.  The "impulses of despair or of frenzy" will find no exit; so, they cannot give in to despair. The prince supplies the abbey with all the necessary provisions, and entertains his guests with a masqued ball.  Certainly, he has fortified his abbey as best he can against the Red Death.  Even when the Death somehow penetrates his fortress, Prince Prospero is confident enough in his power and self to accost this intruder who has the effrontery to bring the "scarlet horror " with him. Indeed, everything in him revolts against the onslaught of death as he counts himself mounted on the stairway to heaven on earth, not death: 

In the first moment with a strong shudder either of terror or distaste; but, in the next, his brow reddened with rage.

In his essay, "'The Masque of the Red Death'-- An Interpretation," H. H. Bell, Jr., writes, 

It should be noted that Prospero was standing in the blue room when he uttered these words— in that youthful period of life when a man is braver toward death than he is later on, when it is closer upon him.

Prospero rebels against death all the more because he is young and vital, feeling that he will live forever; he fights against the robbery of his life with bravado and disguise; however, in the end, he is conquered, like all the rest.

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