Edgar Allan Poe



Summary of the story


"The Red Death had long devastated the country. No pestilence had ever been so fatal, or so hideous... There were sharp pains, and sudden dizziness, and then profuse bleeding at the pores, with dissolution. The scarlet stains upon the body and especially upon the face...shut out [its victim] from the aid and from the sympathy of his fellow men....[T]he whole seizure, progress, and termination of the disease, were the incidents of half an hour."
When Prince Prospero\'s "...dominions were half depopulated, he summoned to his presence a thousand hale and lighthearted friends from among the knights and dames of his court, and with these retired to the deep seclusion of one of his castellated abbeys....A strong and lofty wall girdled it. This wall had gates of iron." The Prince had the bolts of the gates welded which left neither means "of ingress or egress to the sudden impulses of despair or of frenzy from within."
"The abby was amply provisioned....The prince had provided all the appliances of pleasure....buffoons,...improvisatori,...ballet dancers,...musicians,...Beauty,...wine. All these and security were within. Without was the \'Red Death.\' "
"It was toward the close of the fifth or sixth month of his seclusion,...that the Prince Prospero entertained his thousand friends at a masked ball of the most unusual magnificence....[I]t was his own guiding taste which had given character to the masqueraders. Be sure they were grotesque....There were arabesque figures with unsuited limbs and appointments....madman fashions...much of the beautiful, much of the wanton, much of the bizarre, something of the terrible, and not a little of that which might have excited disgust."
The masque was held in an imperial suite consisting of seven rooms. "The apartments were so irregularly disposed that the vision embraced but little more than one at a time. There was a sharp turn at every twenty or thirty yards, and at each turn a novel effect. To the right and left, in the middle of each wall, a tall and narrow Gothic window looked out upon a closed corridor which pursued the windings of the suite. These windows were of stained glass whose color varied in accordance with the prevailing hue of the decorations of the chamber into which it opened. That at the eastern extremity was...blue-and vividly blue were its windows. The second chamber was purple in its ornaments and tapestries, and here the panes were purple. The third was green throughout....The fourth...orange...the fifth...white...the sixth...violet. The seventh apartment was closely shrouded in black velvet tapestries that hung all over the ceiling and down the walls,...[with] a carpet of the same material and hue. But in this chamber only, the color of the windows failed to correspond with the decorations. The panes were scarlet--a deep blood color."
"There was no light of any kind ...within the suite of chambers. But in the corridors...opposite to each window, a heavy tripod, bearing a brazier of fire...projected its rays through the tinted glass and so glaringly illumined the room....But in the...black chamber...so wild a look upon the countenances of those who entered [was produced], that there were few of the company bold enough to set foot within its precincts at all."
It was within this same apartment that there stood a gigantic ebony clock whose pendulum swang "to and fro with a dull, heavy, monotonous clang." All who were present froze, and all activities ceased with the sounding of each hour by the clock. Musicians paused; waltzers stopped their dance; and the giddy grew pale. "But when the echoes had fully ceased, a light laughter at once pervaded the assembly...."
The first six apartments were densely crowded unlike the seventh. The festivities continued "until at length there commenced the sounding of midnight upon the clock. And then the music ceased...and the evolutions of the waltzers were quieted; and there was an uneasy cessation of all things as before....[As] the last echoes of the last chime...sunk into silence, there were many individuals in the crowd who had...become aware of the presence of a masked figure [that no one had detected before]....[T]here arose at length from the whole company...[an expression] of disapprobation and surprise-then finally, of terror, of horror, and of disgust....[T]he mummer had gone so far as to assume the type