What did Prince Prospero decide to do in "The Masque of the Red Death"?

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Prince Prospero decided to take a thousand of his closest friends and hole up in a castle to have a party.

The Red Death was a terrible disease.  It killed a person quickly and efficiently.   The disease was also highly contagious.  For this reason, Prospero’s people were dying left and right.  At this point, most leaders would have at least tried to help their people.  Prosopero was so selfish and arrogant that he had a better idea.

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. 

He decorated the house garishly and magnificently.  What was happening was a constant party.  The castle was very well appointed and there was no reason for anyone to leave.  No one could get in, and no one could get out.

It was toward the close of the fifth or sixth month of his seclusion, and while the pestilence raged most furiously abroad, that the Prince Prospero entertained his thousand friends at a masked ball of the most unusual magnificence.

Prospero assumed that he was rich enough to escape death.  He gave no interest to his suffering people.  As their leader, he should have put his every effort into helping them, either by trying to end the plague or by aiding the sick.  Instead, he isolated himself and the wealthiest members of his kingdom and ignored his people.

The story demonstrates the arrogance of those who feel that they are above all consequences, including death.  Prospero cared only about himself.  He wanted to have a good time.  In the end, he died just the same.

Read the study guide:
The Masque of the Red Death

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