Being reminded that nobody escapes death just doesn't get any more fun than this. In only fourteen paragraphs, Poe creates a Gothic wonderland that will give you a serious case of the spine-tinglies and set your imagination all atwitter. The story's imagery is just as wonderfully weird and dramatic. The language is so grave and dark it practically screams to be read aloud by Christopher Lee . And if you're into solving puzzles, the story's got enough allusion and symbolism to keep you figuring it out for a good long while.
Besides being a horror buff's dream, "Masque of the Red Death" may also have some interesting things to say about art. In what ways is an artist like a sorcerer? Do art and madness always go together? Is art above morality? What's the relationship between art and death? Those are all questions Poe explores through the surprisingly complex character of Prince Prospero.
So read "The Masque of the Red Death," and let yourself discover the fantastic world of Poe and Prospero's madness. Find out why some have called this Poe's own twisted remake of Shakespeare's The Tempest . And witness for yourself the mother of all party crashes.
The portrayal of the masquerade ball foreshadows the similar setting of the carnival in “The Cask of Amontillado,” which appeared less than a year after “The Masque of the Red Death.” Whereas the carnival in “The Cask of Amontillado” associates drunken revelry with an open-air Italian celebration, the masquerade functions in this story as a celebratory retreat from the air itself, which has become infected by the plague. The masquerade, however, dispels the sense of claustrophobia within the palace by liberating the inner demons of the guests. These demons are then embodied by the grotesque costumes. Like the carnival, the masquerade urges the abandonment of social conventions and rigid senses of personal identity. However, the mysterious guest illuminates the extent to which Prospero and his guests police the limits of social convention. When the mysterious guest uses his costume to portray the fears that the masquerade is designed to counteract, Prospero responds antagonistically. As he knows, the prosperity of the party relies upon the psychological transformation of fear about the Red Death into revelry. When the mysterious guest dramatizes his own version of revelry as the fear that cannot be spoken, he violates an implicit social rule of the masquerade. The fall of Prospero and the subsequent deaths of his guests follow from this logic of the masquerade: when revelry is unmasked as a defense mechanism against fear, then the raw exposure of what lies beneath is enough to kill.