Why has Prince Prospero locked himself and his guests in the abbey in "The Masque of the Red Death"?

4 Answers

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gmuss25 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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As was mentioned in the previous post, Prince Prospero locks himself and others inside his massive abbey in order to avoid being afflicted with the "Red Death." Poe writes that half of the population has already died from the plague and the prince chooses one thousand upper-class members of society to shut themselves in his abbey to avoid the "Red Death." There were ample provisions inside the abbey and the prince hoped that they would be able to outlast the plague. Poe explains their reasoning for staying inside the abbey by writing,

"With such precautions the courtiers might bid defiance to contagion" (3).

While the rest of the countryside is experiencing the horrifying plague, Prince Prospero and his guests are enjoying their time being locked inside the abbey. They dance and party within the safe confines of the abbey while the plague rages on. However, the prince and his guests cannot cheat death and succumb to the "Red Death" by the end of the short story.

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Susan Woodward | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

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Prince Prospero is trying to escape a deadly plague that is running rampant through his country.  Anyone who becomes infected with the "red death" begins to bleed from all pores and dies within thirty minutes.  Prospero gathers one thousand of his people, and they seal themselves in the abbey to wait for the plague to be over.  His name, "Prospero", is ironic because he does not prosper by locking himself away; no one can escape death.

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sullymonster | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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The Prince's land has been struck by a fatal plague, a disease that spreads quickly and kills quickly.  It is called the "red death" because of the blood stains it leaves upon its victims.  Prospero has gathered himself and his followers into the abbey to protect them all from being affected by the plague.  It is a self-inflicted quarantine.

See the link below for more information on the story's plot.

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historiansunited | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

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In the story, the "Red Death" is fatal, almost instantly. The Prince practices the oldest skill in the humans arsonal, self preservation.