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

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What do the Masqueraders represent in "The Masque of the Red Death"?

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In the story "The Masque of Red Death", the masqueraders are the people who were closest to Prince Prospero. They were the people who followed him and did as he wished, courtiers. That is precisely whom they represent, nobles and aristocrats.

The fact that they represent the upper class is very telling. When you think of the masks that they wear, oblivious and careless about the situation going on in the outside, it makes us think of everyone who has blindly followed a leader, or a cause, without really thinking about it. 

Notice how they obey every whim of Prince Prospero. They do not even get to pick their own costumes. If Prospero wants them to look beautiful, or disgusting, or frightening, it was not up to them; they had to submit to whatever their ruler asked. 

it was his own guiding taste which had given character to the masqueraders. Be sure they were grotesque.

Their attitudes are equally telling of what they represent. They characterize them as aloof individuals, and as people who are too preoccupied with the mundane and the superficial to care about what really needs to be taken care of. Like the first line reads, Prince Prospero's own tastes guided them. In fact, he guided them completely. Blindly, they followed. They did not care what was the outcome. They were too busy with the shallowness of it all. 

There were much glare and glitter and piquancy and phantasm--[...] There were arabesque figures with unsuited limbs and appointments. There were delirious fancies such as the madman fashions. There were much of the beautiful, much of the wanton, much of the _bizarre_, something of the terrible, and not a little of that which might have excited disgust.

Therefore, the masqueraders represent the calloused, unsympathetic upper class leaders of the world. They embody carelessness, shallowness, and an overall blindness of what really matters. 

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