The most important characters in the short story “The Masque of the Red Death” by Edgar Allan Poe are Prince Prospero and the Red Death. The knights and guests at the prince’s court function as a collective character which we will also briefly outline.

Prince Prospero

Prince Prospero is the main character in the short story, whom the narrator characterizes both directly and indirectly (through actions and attitude).

Outer characterization

The prince’s outer characterization begins with his name and status. Both his name and status as a prince indicate prosperity. He is a wealthy man, owning a castle and able to host a large number of court members during the plague while contracting all the necessary supplies for their seclusion. Also, he is “a bold and robust man” with a strong voice.

Inner characterization

Prospero’s inner characterization is revealed by the narrator, who depicts him as “happy and dauntless and sagacious” as well as having an “eccentric yet august taste”.

Prospero also comes across as oblivious and indifferent to the suffering of his people, as he prefers to seclude himself from the outside world which is torn by the plague: “The external world could take care of itself. In the meantime it was folly to grieve, or to think. The prince had provided all the appliances of pleasure.”

His eccentricity is further revealed through the way his castle is built, resembling a labyrinth, and through the way he decides to organize the masquerade in rooms painted differently, making the guests wear sini...

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