Why might the prince be so drawn to the excessive luxury and constant merriment?

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In general, excessive luxury and constant merriment are common companions for royalty, so Prince Prospero had probably become accustomed to that kind of lifestyle at a very early age. In addition to that, he is trying to distract himself and his friends from the disease that was ravaging his lands....

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In general, excessive luxury and constant merriment are common companions for royalty, so Prince Prospero had probably become accustomed to that kind of lifestyle at a very early age. In addition to that, he is trying to distract himself and his friends from the disease that was ravaging his lands. The excessive luxury could have been an incentive to his friends to get them to come with him, but it was more likely just a product of his extravagant tastes. The constant merriment was also a part of the lifestyle he was accustomed to and his extravagant taste, but it was more than that: the entertainment the prince provided for himself and his guests was to keep them from going stir crazy within the abbey (remember that they had not only locked people out, but they had locked themselves in), so musicians and buffoons and dancers were a good way to distract themselves from the situation they were in.

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