Reply To: The Masque of the Red Death

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Joyanne Terry

In reading this short story, I immediately made the connection to the HIV/AIDs epidemic, although this story could really be applied to any crisis. In this story, there is a plague called the Red Death circulating Prince Prospero’s kingdom, but, instead of taking any action to help his citizens, he gathers 1000 friends of his, shuts himself up behind his palace walls and throws parties as entertainment. Similarly, during the AIDs crisis, not much national attention was given because those who were in the elite class or believed themselves to have the “right lifestyle” (a heterosexual lifestyle) thought that those affected were being rightfully punished for their actions. Thus, they closed the proverbial palace walls and largely ignored the suffering of others. However, with time, AIDs found its way to those who deemed themselves innocent. In class, we talked about two intances of this in which a woman who was white, conservative and in a heterosexual relationship got the disease. Similar to the Red Death, when AIDs made its way to the halls of the elite class, only then did they begin to take any action. I also can see some similarities to our current coronavirus pandemic; the problem, in this case, is not that there is little coverage of the spreading of the virus. The issue is that certain groups, such as undocumented people, people with low incomes or those who ar typically marginalized by society run a high risk of catching the virus but have a lower chance of surviving. They often can not stay home, as they need their income in order to survive, but if they contract the virus, they will not have proper access to medical care. Since these people make up a sizable portion of the US, it stands to reason that protecting these people would ultimately protect us all. However, little is being done; the guidelines for reducing exposure to the virus does not take into consideration people’s circumstances and whether they can follow them appropriately. There is little finnancial help especially for undocumented people. Those who are well off will be able to lessen their chances of exposure, but those who are not are left outside of the gates of safety to suffer.