Edgar Allan Poe's The Masque Of The Red Death

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Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Masque of the Red Death” is about the wealthy Prince Prospero who tries to protect himself and his friends from a deadly plague by taking refuge inside his castle. The story takes place in England in the 1300s. During this era, millions of people died because of the Bubonic plague. The events of the story take place in Prince Prospero’s castle, and the castle as a main setting is an extremely important element of the story because it functions as a protector against the plague (i.e., the Red Death). Its massive size and gothic style are also key to the realism of the story in addition to mirroring Prospero’s personality, ego, and bizarreness. Finally, the plague itself is vital as a backdrop to the setting, as it helps…show more content…
The primary purpose of Medieval castles was to act as fortresses and protect people from attacking armies. Often, Medieval castles had two or even three rows of walls surrounding them as a means to keep enemies out. Around such walls, deep trenches were filled with water creating moats to further protect the castle and their inhabitants. Drawbridges were built over the moats, so that in the event of impending danger, the bridges could be raised on chains attached to the walls of the castles; thus, no one could cross the moats to enter the castles. In addition, powerful iron-bound oak gates and iron railings served to seal the entrances to many Medieval castles making the castles nearly impenetrable during times of war (“Castle”). Even though there was not a war taking place in “The Masque of the Red Death”, Prince Prospero used his castle as a fortress, in a sense, to protect himself from the deadly disease that was waging war on the countryside. In this regard, the castle plays a crucial role as the protector in the story. While outside people were dying ghastly deaths as a result of the plague, Prince Pospero barricaded himself and those he deemed worthy within the castle's “extensive and magnificent structure” (Poe 373). The description of the castle shows that it can serve as an excellent protector, and it is logical that Prospero would make an attempt to hide from the death within its
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