What does the masquerade represent in "The Masque of the Red Death"?

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ms-mcgregor | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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The masked ball is the ultimate representation of what the guests were hiding from during their entire stay with Prince Prospero. The purpose of their time at the castle was to escape from the Red Death. Thus, a dance where everyone hides their true identity is a perfect climax for the story. The dance represents life. It is significant that each hour, the dance stops for the chiming of the ebony clock, which represents the time until death. The ball takes place in seven rooms, which each symbolize a stage of life. However, as the ball continues, few guests will venture near the final room, which is a symbol for death. This shows their fear of death and the fact that they have all hidden their faces shows how they are trying to hide their true identities and fear of death from each other. Once midnight sounds, the party-goers stop, as life must stop, at the presence of death. In this case, death comes in the form of a plague or Red Death, but it inevitably comes to anyone participating in the dance of life. Once the presence of the Red Death is acknowledged, all the masked figures die, despite their efforts to disguise themselves. Death, it seems, will seek you out and find you no matter where you are or who you try to be.

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