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

The Masque of the Red Death book cover
Start Your Free Trial

What big event does the prince organize after the people have been in seclusion for five to six months in "The Masque of the Red Death"?

Expert Answers info

Philip Arrington eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2018

write1,356 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Business

The horrific short story "The Masque of the Red Death" by Edgar Allan Poe tells of a country that is devastated by a deadly contagious disease known as the Red Death. When people contract it, they seep blood and die within half an hour. Instead of attempting to assist his subjects in their time of great need, selfish Prince Prospero retires to a castellated abbey with 1,000 other people and securely locks the doors. He is content to enjoy parties and merriment while the people in his dominions die horrible deaths.

After five or six months in the abbey, the prince organizes a "masked ball of the most unusual magnificence." He holds his ball in an elaborate suite of seven color-specific rooms. Each room's furniture and windows correspond to its singular color—of blue, purple, green, orange, white, violet, or black. The masqueraders are clothed in all sorts of beautiful, bizarre, grotesque, and even disgusting costumes.

At this extraordinary masquerade, each time the clock in the black room strikes the hour, the musicians pause and the revelry quiets down. When the clock strikes midnight, the people become aware of a figure in a costume resembling a corpse and a mask resembling the bloodied face of someone who has caught the Red Death. The figure walks through the various rooms, and when the partygoers finally attack it, they discover that there is no one within. It is the personification of the Red Death, and the revelers all begin to drop and die.

So the prince organizes an elaborate masquerade, but it turns out to be the last event in the abbey, because the Red Death itself arrives as one of the guests.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial