What does the prince’s response to the Red Death suggest about the kind of person he is? Explain.

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William Delaney eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Prince's response to the Red Death suggests that he is a selfish and hedonistic aristocrat, not unlike Louis XVI, who famously said, "After me, the deluge!" He cares nothing about the fates of all his people who are dying in such numbers that half the population has disappeared. All he thinks about is taking care of himself and his friends and making sure that they spend their seclusion in luxury. He has provided everything they need to eat and drink for as long as the Red Death continues to rage outside the high wall. They spend all their time in revelry. The Prince is outraged when the intruder appears and interferes with their enjoyment. He may realize that this ghostly figure represents Death itself, but he thinks he can somehow save himself even at the last. He thinks he is so superior that he is even invulnerable to Death. The reader cannot feel any sympathy for him, since he has none for his subjects but wishes to shut them out and forget them.

davmor1973 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In "The Masque of the Red Death," Prince Prospero comes across as a deeply callous, inhumane individual. He is "happy and dauntless" while the terrible pestilence rages outside the confines of his castellated abbey. He doesn't seem to care about the plague's victims or the immense suffering that they endure. To him, the plague is just a good opportunity to throw a huge masked ball for some of his aristocratic friends and courtiers.

Self-preservation is much more important to the Prince and his hangers-on. The fact that his princedom has been "half depopulated" doesn't seem to matter much to Prospero. It would seem he has a haughty disregard for the common people outside. As long as he and his guests are comfortably ensconced inside the abbey, then all is well.

Prince Prospero's attitude to the Red Death can be summed-up in one line:

The external world could take care of itself.

Read the study guide:
The Masque of the Red Death

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