Poe's Stories

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A wild, eccentric character in "The Masque of the Red Death." He has so much money and status that when the Red Death plagues the country, wreaking havoc and killing untold numbers, he can afford to buy an abbey and keep his entourage entertained with elaborate, bizarre parties. But when the mood of his masked ball changes, he becomes trapped in his suite of rooms and is struck down by the personification of the plague.

Prince Prospero Quotes in Poe's Stories

The Poe's Stories quotes below are all either spoken by Prince Prospero or refer to Prince Prospero. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Rivals and Doppelgangers Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Penguin Classics edition of Poe's Stories published in 2006.
The Masque of the Red Death Quotes

The external world could take care of itself. In the meantime it was folly to grieve, or to think.

Related Characters: Prince Prospero
Page Number: 37
Explanation and Analysis:

In this story, a haughty prince, Prospero, holds a grand party in his palace. At the party, the guests try to distract themselves from the realities of their kingdom: all around them, there's a horrible disease called the Red Death, which is killing off many innocent people. The Prince and his guests believe that their joy, wealth, and imagination will protect them from the disease.

Poe is clearly critical of Prospero's ignorance and arrogance with regard to the Red Death. Instead of accepting the reality of the horrible disease, or trying to do something about it, Prospero turns his back on the Red Death altogether. Some critics have suggested that Prospero is Poe's caricature of his literary contemporaries, authors who, unlike Poe himself, ignored the horror and banality of life and tried to focus too excessively on aesthetics or fantasy. (As the story suggests, there was a class element in Poe's critique of his contemporaries: Poe was the first American author to support himself entirely through writing, and seemed to have resented his wealthier peers.) Where other writers try to forget how dangerous and horrifying the world really is, Poe uses literature to address to world's horrors head-on.

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Prince Prospero Character Timeline in Poe's Stories

The timeline below shows where the character Prince Prospero appears in Poe's Stories. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
The Masque of the Red Death
Rivals and Doppelgangers Theme Icon
The Dead and the Living Theme Icon
The Gothic Style Theme Icon
...man rapidly with a seizure and bleeding from the pores, is terrorizing the country. But Prince Prospero is unaffected. Though his people are dying by the hour, he gathers his friends... (full context)
The Dead and the Living Theme Icon
The Gothic Style Theme Icon
After a few months, the Red Death is at its height. But the Prince holds a fabulous masked ball, throughout the imperial suite, whose seven rooms are unusually laid... (full context)
The Gothic Style Theme Icon
Self, Solitude, and Consciousness Theme Icon
...besides these things, the ball is a magnificent event. It is all designed with the Prince’s eccentric taste, combining the disgusting and the beautiful, which is so bold that it is... (full context)
Rivals and Doppelgangers Theme Icon
The Dead and the Living Theme Icon
The Gothic Style Theme Icon
...most reckless person, there is always something that will touch his sensible side, and for Prince Prospero, this figure does that. The figure is completely masked, from head to foot, as... (full context)
Rivals and Doppelgangers Theme Icon
The Dead and the Living Theme Icon
The Gothic Style Theme Icon
Self, Solitude, and Consciousness Theme Icon
...figure moves slowly among the waltzers and starts to shake with rage as he sees Prince Prospero. The Prince, also enraged, orders the man to be uncovered and hung from the... (full context)
Rivals and Doppelgangers Theme Icon
The Dead and the Living Theme Icon
The Gothic Style Theme Icon
Now at the black apartment, the masked figure suddenly turns and the Prince drops to the floor. The revelers rush into the room and the figure in the... (full context)