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The Masque of the Red Death

The Masque of the Red Death

by Edgar Allan Poe

Analysis: Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis

Christopher Booker is a scholar who wrote that every story falls into one of seven basic plot structures: Overcoming the Monster, Rags to Riches, the Quest, Voyage and Return, Comedy, Tragedy, and Rebirth. Shmoop explores which of these structures fits this story like Cinderella’s slipper.

Plot Type : Tragedy

Anticipation Stage

The Red Death ravages the countryside, Prospero flees to his castle getaway

We meet our "hero," Prospero, who somehow thinks that he can escape from the Red Death that's destroying his kingdom. He leads a retreat to his castellated abbey and locks himself and his 1,000 favorite knights and ladies inside. They're there to part. No dying is going to happen there any time soon.

Dream Stage

Prospero spends several months in his castle, and then puts on a masquerade ball.

Prospero's flight from the Red Death appears to be successful, and after several months he decides to throw one heck of a party. It's one big celebration of life and all it's pleasures. And he ball is so strange that it does actually resemble a dream.

Frustration Stage

A guest appears at midnight, dressed as the Red Death

The appearance of the guest in the Red Death costume signals the start of trouble. Somebody has dared to remind all of Prospero's revelers of the horror from which they cannot escape. There is general disgust, fear, and outrage. This is the first suggestion that Prospero and his friends weren't able to escape the Red Death after all.

Nightmare Stage

Prospero orders the Red Death seized; no one moves

When Prospero orders the guest in the Red Death costume to be seized, no one does a thing – not even Prospero himself. He's lost control of the situation. The guest walks untroubled towards the black room.

Destruction or Death Wish Stage

Prospero charges after the Red Death, and dies, followed by everybody else

Prospero runs after what turns out to be the Red Death itself, and dies (seriously, guys, trying to kill death is never a good idea). His guests die too, after finding out for themselves just what it is that has come to their masquerade. They were not able to escape the Red Death after all. How foolish they were to think they could.

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