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The Red Death is a plague, a pestilence that is quickly fatal, and its symptoms "so hideous." There are severe pains, stunning dizziness, and profuse bleeding through the pores, and then a brutal death. Symptomatic of this plague are redness and "the horror of blood." These scarlet stains cover the body and so frighten and repulse people that they flee the victims. Most devastating is the fact that the time from the appearance of the scarlet stains until death is only a matter of thirty minutes.
After this plague has decimated the population of the kingdom of Prince Prospero, he summons his knights and friends and members of his court and devises a plan to protect them from the Red Death: He takes them to his "castellated abbey" where there are lofty walls with gates of iron that surround this fortress. There the prince hopes that they "might bid defiance to the contagion." The guests engage in a masquerade; however, the Red Death itself enters later as a masked interloper.
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