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Themes

How could an Edgar Allan Poe story called "The Masque of the Red Death" not be about death? Death is everywhere in this story, from the opening description of the "Red Death" plague to the closing line about death's "dominion." Images and symbols of death practically drip from its pages, reminding the characters, and the reader, of death's inevitability. The characters in the story all try to ignore and escape death, preferring to stay focused on living life to its fullest. But mortality can't be avoided, as they are reminded when Death literally crashes their party.

Questions About Mortality

  1. What symbols or images of death can you find in the story?
  2. What is the connection between Death and Time in "The Masque of the Red Death"?
  3. Is death presented as a force of evil in "The Masque of the Red Death?" Or is it a neutral force?
  4. Why do you think Prince Prospero chooses to design a room so suggestive of death, since this is just what he and his followers are trying to avoid?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Death in "The Masque of the Red Death" is not an evil force but a natural one.

Prince Prospero does not ignore death; he wants to be the master of it.

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