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The Masque of the Red Death

Edgar Allan Poe

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The Masque of the Red Death


Edgar Allan Poe


May 1842




Horror, Short Story, Gothic Fiction


"The Masque of the Red Death", originally published as "The Mask of the Red Death", is a short story by Edgar Allan Poe. The story follows Prince Prospero's attempts to avoid a dangerous plague known as the Red Death by hiding in his abbey. He, along with many other wealthy nobles, has a masquerade ball within seven rooms of his abbey, each decorated with a different color. In the midst of their revelry, a mysterious figure disguised as a Red Death victim enters and makes his way through each of the rooms. Prospero dies after confronting this stranger, whose "costume" proves to have nothing tangible inside it; the guests also die in turn. The story follows many traditions of Gothic fiction and is often analyzed as an allegory about the inevitability of death, though some critics advise against an allegorical reading. Many different interpretations have been presented, as well as attempts to identify the true nature of the titular disease. The story was first published in May 1842 in Graham's Magazine. It has since been adapted in many different forms, including the 1964 film starring Vincent Price. It has been alluded to by other works in many types of media.


"There are chords in the hearts of the most reckless which cannot be touched without emotion. Even with the utterly lost, to whom life and death are equally jests, there are matters of which no jest can be made."


Prince Prospero, The Red Death

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