Award winning narrator Mike Vendetti reads The Mask of the Red Death by Edgar Allen Poe, a Gothic short story that originally appeared in Graham's magazine in May of 1882. This short story later appears as The Masque of the Red Death. The Red death is fictitious, but it is likely that the disease was inspired by tuberculosis (or consumption, as it was known then), since Poe's wife, Virginia, was suffering from the disease at the time the story was written. Like the character of Prince Prospero, Poe tried to ignore the fatality of the disease.
Poe's mother, Eliza; brother William; and foster mother, Frances Allan, had also died of tuberculosis. Alternatively, the Red Death may refer to cholera; Poe would have witnessed an epidemic of cholera in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1831. Others have suggested that the plague is actually Bubonic plague or the Black Death, emphasized by the climax of the story featuring the "Red" Death in the "black" room. One writer likens the description to that of a viral hemorrhagic fever or necrotizing fasciitis. It has been suggested that the Red Death is not a disease or sickness at all but a weakness (like "original sin") that is shared by all of humankind inherently.
Public Domain (P)2015 Mike Vendetti