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The Masque of the Red Death

by Edgar Allan Poe

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What is in the seventh room in "The Masque of the Red Death"?

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Edgar Allen Poe's "The Masque of the Red Death" is a chilling story that can be interpreted in many ways.  In short, the story tells of an eccentric Prince Prospero, who has decided to gather some of his subjects in his castle (no one is allowed in or out) so they may avoid the plague that is raging in Prospero's kingdom.  Essentially, the revelers spend their time making merry and ignoring the suffering that's going on outside. 

During a masquerade ball, the castle's inhabitants, who are dressed in costumes, make their way through various different-colored rooms.  Many critics have connected the color of each room with the various stages of life, and many assert that the story is an allegory that represents the periods in one's life. 

While the first six rooms are brightly-colored and inhabited by party-goers, everyone avoids the last room, which is draped with black tapestry, and has dark red stained-glass windows which seem to cast a blood-red color when light filters through them.  Further, it is home to an ebony clock, whose hourly chime is so distorted and disturbing that it causes everyone to pause. 

Ultimately, the masked figure, which represents the Red Death, confronts Prospero in this room--and Prospero dies promptly.  Thus, many people believe this room to be representative of death, as it is black in color and as while each of the other rooms has two doors, the seventh room only has one door, which suggests that there's no way out. 

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