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appletrees eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This very descriptive and atmospheric story is in large part all about setting and how it can function almost like a character. The vivid descriptions of the castle's chambers, each one a different color and full of furnishings of the same hue, create a powerful picture in the reader's eye and help establish the heightened mood of the celebration at the heart of the action. Color is important to the story because it refers to the disease/plague that affects the characters, and refers to the central event in the title. The masque is a celebratory event but is also the catalyst for character epiphanies. When the corruption of the prince and his guests is revealed, it becomes clear that the plague may be a form of punishment that is waiting to claim the lives of those who behave cruelly or selfishly towards others. The decadent descriptions of the castle underscore the shallow values of this culture, and Poe may in fact be suggesting that the plague is a result of human corruption.

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The Masque of the Red Death

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