The Masque of the Red Death by Edgar Allan Poe

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

What is the central conflict in "The Masque of the Red Death"?

Expert Answers info

Gretchen Mussey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2015

write9,629 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Law and Politics

On a literal level, the central conflict of Poe's classic short story "The Masque of the Red Death" is considered a man versus nature conflict, where Prince Prospero and his nobles attempt to survive the deadly contagion that is rapidly spreading throughout the countryside. The "Red Death" is an extremely deadly pestilence that has devastated Prince Prospero's nation and left thousands dead in its wake. In order to avoid the plague, Prince Prospero secludes himself inside his magnificent abbey with a thousand knights and dames from his kingdom. The aristocrats remain safe from the deadly...

(The entire section contains 2 answers and 469 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now


Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Gracie O'Hara eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2011

write6,929 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Business

Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial


epollock | Student

The central conflict of "The Masque of the Red Death" is Prince Prospero’s attempt to evade and defeat death. Prospero is the protagonist; Death or Fate is the antagonist. The climax of the story occurs in paragraph 13, when Prospero falls "prostrate in death." The crisis begins in paragraph 8, on the first appearance of the masked figure. The conflict is resolved with the revelation of the spectral nature of the figure and the instantaneous death of the guests. It is a tragic telling of what happens to someone when they try to "out-run death."

check Approved by eNotes Editorial