What does the death of Prince Prospero represent?
In Poe's "The Masque of the Red Death," although the "Red Death" has devastated the country, Prince Prospero feels himself "happy and dauntless and sagacious." In his arrogance of having wealth and position, the prince believes that he can girder himself and his court inside the ramparts of one of his "castellated abbeys." Believing that this ancient fortress will prevent the Red Death from assaulting them, the court and the prince engage in revelries as they attend a masquerade.
Since the prince "loves the bizarre," seven rooms are each designed so that the guests cannot see into the other rooms; and, the stained glass windows are of the same hue as the room's decor.
The tastes of the duke were peculiar. he had a fine eye for colors and effects. He disregarded the decora of mere fashio. His plans were bold and fiery, and his conceptions glowed with barbaric luster....Ther were much glare and glitter and piquancy and phantasm...There were delirious fancies such as the madman fahions.
Clearly, Prince Prospero is a unique man who fancies himself superior to others, his powers outside the range of others. He is in control of the entire masquerade; that is, until he becomes aware of "a masked figure." But, is this figure who 'out-masks' the creative designer of the masque as the deception of the intruder is not marked until it is too late. For, the enraged Prince Prospero who raises a dagger and arrogantly demands, "Who dares?" is assaulted by something more powerful: the Red Death.
He who forbids the "ingress and egress" of his abbey; he who has created his own designs and merriment; he who is "dauntless and sagacious" is attacked by one more dauntless and knowing: the Red Death. The death of Prince Propspero proves that nothing man-made can stop the terrible plague, not money or fortresses, or boldness.