“The Masque of the Red Death”, originally published as “The Mask of the Red Death: A Fantasy”, is a short story by American writer Edgar Allan Poe, first published in 1842. The story follows Prince Prospero’s attempts to avoid a dangerous plague, known as the Red Death, by hiding in his abbey. He, along with many other wealthy nobles, hosts a masquerade ball within seven rooms of the abbey, each decorated with a different color. In the midst of their revelry, a mysterious figure disguised as a Red Death victim enters and makes his way through each of the rooms. Prospero dies after confronting this stranger, whose “costume” proves to contain nothing tangible inside it; the guests also die in turn.
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.