What is the setting of "The Masque of the Red Death" by Edgar Allan Poe?

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price7781 | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

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This scary story about how everyone is mortal and death is inevitable takes place in the 14th century in Europe.  Prince Prospero, the narrator, has gathered 1000 other wealthy people and friends in the abbey of his castle in hopes of escaping the disease, the Red Death, that is sweeping across Europe.  He locks them all in the abbey by bolting and welding the doors shut so no one can escape, and nothing can get in.  In a way, he is hoping that life will stand still by becoming a prisoner in his own castle.  All goes well for a while, and after a few months, Prince Prospero holds a masquerade ball for his company in the spooky imperial suites of the abbey.  The rooms are all different colors and have matching stained glass windows.  One of the rooms is all black with blood red windows.  During the party, a stranger who looks like a corpse, "tall and gaunt, and shrouded from head to foot in the habiliments of the grave" enters the masquerade ball.  The visitor's mask is splotchy red, a symptom of the Red Death.  Everything and everybody stops, and Prince Prospero chases the uninvited out of the room into the all black room.  As he approaches the stranger, the stranger turns to reveal himself to Prince Prospero. The Prince drops his dagger and falls over dead. The Red Death has crept into the abbey after all, and it isn't long before everyone else is dead.  

The moral of the story is that no one can escape death. Despite Prince Prospero's efforts, he is mortal and cannot escape his fate.  

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