The Masque of the Red Death

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Short Story Essay Assignment

Sometimes in works of literature, pride is a double sided blade which tends to come with selfishness. This is shown in the story “The Masque of the Red Death” by Edgar Allen Poe. The character, Prince Prospero, is a very proud man, who rules all that his eyes can see. Unfortunately, his pride is easily conveyed as selfishness, which is the opposite side of this ‘Double Sided Blade’. Prospero shows both of these qualities in many ways throughout the story.

Prospero shows this trait of both pride and selfishness when he decides to build a wall to not only keep out death and disease, but to keep in the wealthy, upper class people as well. Referring to page 82, when the book states “... [He] retired to the deep seclusion of one of his castellated abbeys…” it shows that this man thinks he is impervious to death, and his wealth makes him so. Prince Prospero also demonstrates these behaviors on page 88, “Prince Prospero… rushed hurriedly through six chambers… to attack the figure.” Showing his selfishness because he is willing to risk the lives of others and himself.

In the end, all of Prospero’s guest die and it’s due to his own pride and selfishness, page 88 “And darkness and decay and the Red Death held illimitable dominion over all.” This quote explains the overall outcome of the story, when everyone is consumed by the ‘death’. He learns that his selfishness tended to consume his pride and mask him the villain.

Through all of this, the Prince learns a lesson, and that lesson is, no one can escape death, death is imminent. On page 88, the passage shows that Prospero now realizes that death cannot be fooled or overcome, “And now was acknowledged the presence of the Red Death.”

In conclusion, people usually encounter times in their lives where they are proud, and this pride can either be humbly shown and facilitate you, or you can cross that thin line and display selfishness, which will mar you in the end....
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