What pair of words best describes Prince Prospero in Poe's short story "The Masque of the Red Death"?

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If you are asking for two words that effectively describe Prince Prospero, the monarch who is the protagonist of this story, then it might be hard to narrow it down to only two. But if I were to choose only two words, they would be "arrogant" and "inventive."

Prince Prospero's arrogance is connected to his social position as a monarch who rules over the villagers who live nearby. He stages an elaborate ball in his fine castle, to distract the people of the kingdom from the fact that the horrible disease known as "the Red Death" is likely to infect and kill them all. The guests he invites are upper class and possessed of wealth, like the Prince himself. It is his arrogance that allows him to plan his social event without worrying whether anyone present is in danger of infection from the dreaded disease; because he believes that his wealth (and that of his guests), as well as his position of power, make him immune to the kinds of dangers experienced by people of lower social stature. This arrogance can be said to apply to the guests as well; on some level this story is a commentary on social class.

The prince is also inventive, because the event he creates is designed for dramatic effect and cleverly addresses the situation (i.e. the danger of the epidemic) without calling direct attention to it. Each chamber of his palace is decorated with a different color, and the walls, draperies and furnishings are all done in that color, including rooms entirely in green, blue, etc. The final room is done in blood red and is meant to remind the party-goers of the Red Death that waits beyond the castle walls, but that is presumably not present within the party itself. When a masked figure representing the Red Death arrives, Prospero angrily demands he be punished for his offense. However, even the rich and powerful cannot escape their mortality: the disease does indeed affect the guests and the event is marked by chaos and tragedy.

 

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