Who is the protagonist and the antagonist? Explain the answer.

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In "The Masque of the Red Death," the protagonist is the Prince and the antagonist is the Red Death.  However, since this story is an allegory, Prince Prospero is symbolic as the pestilence of the "red death." The Prince is symbolic of health, happiness, and prosperity.  Yet, even possessing these qualities, the Prince has no defense against the inevitability of death. 

Deluded that he does, he invites courtiers to his castellated abbeys whose "walls have gates of iron."  Gathered inside these walls are "musicians, buffoons, ballet dancers, Beauty, and wine."  There is a grand gathering for a masquerade.  However, death masquerades itself and enters this fortress, passing through seven rooms--much like Shakespeare's seven stages of man--and conquers the Prince himself who has "rushed through the six rooms" in order to encounter the Red Death as he retreats. However, suddenly the Death turns toward the Prince.  A cry is heard and the Prince lies prostrate in death. 

When the guests hear this cry, they summon "wild courage of despair" and rush into the room painted with black 

And now was acknowledged the presence of the Red Death.  He had come like a thief in the night.  And one by one dropped the revelers...and died each in the despairing posture of his fall...And Darkness and Decay and the Red Death held illimitable dominion over all.

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