The Masque of the Red Death Questions and Answers
by Edgar Allan Poe

The Masque of the Red Death book cover
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Why do people think the masquerade in "The Masque of the Red Death" was a dream?

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Poe vividly describes Prince Prospero's fantastic masquerade ball as a bizarre affair and refers to the dancing aristocrats as dreams, who frequent the strange, fascinating rooms of the imperial suite. These dreams "writhe" about the rooms as the music "swells" and various colors stream in and out of each room. By using dream language, Poe is likening the ball to an imaginary atmosphere, which is dizzying, illusory, and unlike reality. The "grotesque," unique images and the bizarre costumes of the masqueraders contribute to the dream-like setting and strange atmosphere of the ball. The environment of the imperial suite has transformed into the product of Prince Prospero's twisted imagination. Similar to a dream, the atmosphere is chaotic, twisted, and dizzying. The drunken revelers not only appear to be products of a dream but their experience in the fantastic, bizarre imperial suite is similar to being in a dream. It is also important to note that the dream setting inside Prospero's castellated abbey is juxtaposed to the harsh reality of the Red Death, which is wreaking havoc throughout the country outside of the palace walls.

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