Edgar Allan Poe - The Masque of the Red Death Allegory / Mask of the Red Death
The Masque of the Red Death
The Masquerade Ball
Using the example of the masquerade ball, this exhibits one of Prospero’s first attempts to ‘mask’, or hide, from death. Using his money and power to throw a ball literally represents his allegorical attempt to hide from death, while figuratively wearing a costume.
An important principal of death which Poe addresses is Prospero's pretentiousness in thinking that through his wealth, he could escape death. However, there is an equality in death - the fact that it attacks everyone, rich and poor alike. Prospero may think that a physical barricade may save him, yet in truth, death can infiltrate any place and any person.
The red death is further seen metaphorically when the stranger appears at the ball. Dressed as a plague victim with spots of blood on his face, Prospero confronts him to address his ill humor and poor judgement. However, once he reaches the stranger, he dies instantly. When others attempt to grab the assailant, they die as well, but not before the reader learns that there is no one under the costume. The stranger thus is the Red Death in persona, again conveying that death comes to everyone.