Poe's 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 eponymous disease. The story was first published in May 1842 in Graham's Magazine and has since been adapted in many different forms, including a 1964 film starring Vincent Price. Poe's short story has also been alluded to by other works in many types of media.
At the chiming of midnight, the revelers and Prospero notice a figure in a dark, blood-splattered robe resembling a funeral shroud. The figure's mask resembles the rigid face of a corpse and exhibits the traits of the Red Death. Gravely insulted, Prospero demands to know the identity of the mysterious guest so they can hang him. The guests, too afraid to approach the figure, instead let him pass through the six chambers. The Prince pursues him with a drawn dagger and corners the guest in the seventh room. When the figure turns to face him, the Prince lets out a sharp cry and falls dead. The terrified revelers become enraged surge into the black room and forcibly remove the mask and robe, only to find to their horror that there is nothing underneath. Only then do they realize the costume was the Red Death all along, having "come like a thief in the night", and all of the guests contract and succumb to the disease. The final line of the story sums up, "And Darkness and Decay and the Red Death held illimitable dominion over all."
Red Death tried to persuade the Earth-Prime Iris West-Allen to travel with her to her timeline, claiming she could convince the alternate Flash to stand down. This was necessary because Red Death had accidentally killed her best friend, who took a lightning bolt meant for Barry Allen when he and his army of Rogues managed to corner Red Death. While Red Death's remorse over the other Iris' death seemed genuine, Iris West-Allen was quick to pick apart the holes in her story, determining that Red Death had gone mad with power and really wanted her as bait to lure out The Flash of the alternate timeline.
It was near the end of their fifth month there that Prospero asked his friends to all to come together for a dancing party, a masquerade. Everyone was asked to come dressed in fine clothes and with his eyes, or perhaps his whole face, covered by a cloth mask.
In such a group as this, only a very strange masquerader could have caused such a feeling. Even among those who laugh at both life and death, some matters cannot be laughed at. Everyone seemed now deeply to feel that the stranger should not have been allowed to come among them dressed in such clothes.
It is nearing midnight when people take notice of a cloaked figure. This strange character wears a mask that mimics a deceased victim of The Red Death. The face is corpse-like. It has streaks of blood dripping out of its eyes. Prince Prospero is incensed. How dare someone make a mockery of the dreadful disease and its plight of terror! The figure traipses though all the rooms; blue, purple, green, on and on until finally it reaches the red room. The Prince follows. He corners the phantom.
The midnight chimes fill the chamber. The cloaked figure turns to face Prince Prospero. The Prince drops dead. Members of his court rush the red room. They unmask the figure. There is no one inside the costume. Then, everyone dies. All of them! The fortification of the castle could not save them. The Red Death is the victor.
The Red Death masquerader passes within a few feet of the Prince and starts to walk through the rooms, heading toward the black room. Prospero loses it and runs after him in a rage, drawing his dagger as he approaches. But just as Prospero reaches the edge of the black room, the corpselike guest suddenly whirls around to face him, and Prospero falls to the ground, dead. The shocked crowd throws itself at the guest, only to discover in horror that there's nothing underneath the mask and costume. The Red Death itself has come to the party. One by one the guests die, spilling their blood all over Prospero's lavish rooms. The candles go out, leaving only "darkness, decay, and the Red Death."
The story follows Prince Prospero as he tries to use his wealth and power to elude a deadly plague by hiding away in an abbey with a thousand other guests; however, Death is the conqueror of this tale as the story concludes with the death of Prince Prospero and all of the guests.
Story: A terrible plague called the Red Death has swept over the land, leaving death and disease in its wake. Fortunately for you, Prince Prospero has created a refuge in a walled castellated abbey where he and his wealthy nobleman are waiting out the plague. Indifferent to the suffering outside the abbey, the nobleman spend their days feasting, imbibing fine wine and holding lavish parties. Tonight, the prince is holding a lavish masquerade ball where the attendees disguise their identities behind masks. Little does the prince know that the Red Death and those who serve it have infiltrated the masquerade, intent on showing the rich noblemen that death comes for everyone.
Ultimate power breeds ultimate corruption. The film is set in a country decimated by an epidemic. While the prince of this unnamed land offers refuge for his courtiers, he derives perverse satisfaction in condemning his subjects to death by their exclusion. While Prospero is making his annual deign-to-see-the-peasants day, one of the townspeople dies of Red Death.
In this essay I suggest that Poe in "The Masque of the Red Death" uses Shakespearean and Biblical allusions to reveal a tragic and ironic reversal of a mythic pattern which The Tempest and the Bible have in common. Where the mythic pattern of both The Tempest and the Bible depicts man's victory over sin, death, and time, Poe's mythic pattern depicts the triumph of these agents of destruction over man. In Poe's "mythic parable" of man's role in the universe,2 Prince Prospero becomes an anti-hero, an image of man misusing his will as he attempts to shape reality; and the Red Death becomes an "anti-christ," an image of the cosmic force conspiring man's failure.
While admitting to the obvious differences between The Tempest and the Bible, we can also see that they have much in common. In the Bible, Adam is born into the Garden of Eden; he falls from this paradise when, tempted by Satan, he misuses his will; and finally, through the miraculous powers of the "second Adam" or Christ, he returns to a new Eden. The key to recovering Eden becomes Christ, who uses the miraculous powers of love to triumph over the old law of death, figured in his resurrection. Similarly, in The Tempest Prospero was originally the "right Duke of Milan"; but he lost his dukedom when he retreated into the private world of his study, to become the victim of Antonio, Alonso, and Sebastian; eventually, though, exiled on an island in the Mediterranean sea with his daughter, Miranda, he uses his magical powers to triumph over the "three men of sin."3 In his wedding masque, Prospero uses the spirit Ariel to present a vision of the world he is trying to create: a peaceful world of heaven on earth. Prospero interrupts his masque when he remembers the plot of his slave, Caliban, thus occasioning his famous speech, "Our revels now are ended," in which the "cloud-capped towers" vanish from the world "like...
"Red Death" is for character of levels 7-9, and it is based on the Edgar Allan Poe story which gives the Masque of the Red Death setting its name. The characters are invited to a masquerade ball held by Prince Prospero; the masque is being held in honor of the 50thanniversary of Edgar Allan Poe's death, and is meant to reenact the masque described in his famous story. The adventure is definitely interesting, but has two significant flaws. The first is that Prince Prospero is supposed to be from Transylvania, but few of the maincharacters have Transylvanian-sounding names, and there is little else to indicate that the adventure should take place in Transylvania (other than that region's reputation for horror). The languages spoken in Transylvania are Vlach (Romanian), Magyar (Hungarian), and some German, but these are the names of the major NPC's: Prospero(his name should be in Magyar, as he's a noble), the lord of Wyldecote (which sounds like an English manor, not a Transylvanian one); his footman Antonio; his butler Edgerton; and others. There are a couple characters with German names, but they are the exception. Relating to this problem is another egregious error: the adventure is described as taking place in Romania, but at this time in history Transylvania was part of Austria-Hungary, not Romania. (Similar confusion as to the status of Transylvania in the Victorian era may be seen in the "A Guide to Transylvania" supplement for Masque of the Red Death, which is well-written, but which contains maps showing modern Romania [instead of Romania in the late 19th century, which included Wallachia and Moldava, but notTransylvania, which was still part of Hungary] and Yugoslavia, a country which did not even exist in the Victorian era. Sigh.)
The color poster of Robh Ruppel's cover painting is unfortunately not very inspiring. It is not very detailed so it shows up much better as the cover for the "A Guide to Gothic Earth" book and the cover of the boxed set. The painting shows a Victorian adventurer near the front of a steam engine aiming his pistol at a figure who has just removed a human-like mask from his face to reveal a skull where his head should be. The painting does a nice job of setting the mood, but I was never tempted to hang the poster up on my wall. Not even close.
It was towards the close of the fifth or sixth month of his seclusion, and while the pestilence raged most furiously abroad, that the Prince Prospero entertained his thousand friends at a masked ball of the most unusual magnificence. 781b155fdc