What is the mental state of the masquers proior to the enterance of the uninvited guest (the masked stranger)?

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M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Edgar Allan Poe's story "The Masque of Red Death", Prince Prospero's goal is to retire with his courtiers away from his fashionable court into a Palazzo situated far away from the center of the city.

His purpose is to segregate himself and his courtiers from the Red Death, which had come to their land to ravage the population. Prince Prospero, as his name indicates, has everything in his power to make their move both comfortable as well as entertaining. He takes this pilgrimage as an adventure, rather than a necessary step to safety. As a result of Prince Prospero's attitude, his courtiers appeared just as confident and free of problems:

The story reads,

The courtiers, having entered, brought furnaces and massy hammers and welded the bolts. They resolved to leave means neither of ingress or egress to the sudden impulses of despair or of frenzy from within. The abbey was amply provisioned. With such precautions the courtiers might bid defiance to contagion. The external world could take care of itself. In the meantime it was folly to grieve, or to think.

As you can tell, they basically felt that bolting themselves away and keeping it cool would be enough to prevent contagion. They took for granted that their social status would protect them from their human nature. Hence, they were not only over-confident, but arrogant at the emergency at hand and, in the end, they paid for it all.

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The Masque of the Red Death

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