The Masque of the Red Death
by Edgar Allan Poe
The Masque of the Red Death Foolishness and Folly Quotes
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But these other apartments were densely crowded, and in them beat feverishly the heart of life. And the revel went whirlingly on, until at length there commenced the sounding of midnight upon the clock. (8)
The image we get of Prospero's party is one of wild and uncontrolled revelry. The narrator connects that revelry this to life, in opposition to death, which it ignores. It's the gloomy chiming of the clock – a reminder of the passing of time – that stops the revel.
In truth the masquerade license of the night was nearly unlimited; but the figure in question had out-Heroded Herod, and gone beyond the bounds of even the Prince's indefinite decorum. (9)
On one level, the appearance of someone in a Red Death costume is the height of folly. Whoever it is appears to be making a joke out of something that even Prospero and his friends are unwilling to laugh at. Dressing up as the Red Death? Not funny. Offensive.
Who dares?" he demanded hoarsely of the courtiers who stood near him --"who dares insult us with this blasphemous mockery? Seize him and unmask him --that we may know whom we have to hang at sunrise, from the battlements!" (11)
Prospero's reaction seems rush, impulsive, and extreme to the point of foolishness. He may be a passionate man and an imaginative artist, but does he ever think?