Poe's vivid illustrations still leaves question

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The Masque of the Red Death gave me the first impression that it would about a tragic disease. However the end still left me questioning what really happened. "There was a sharp cry - and the dagger dropped gleaming upon the sable carpet... instantly after fell the prostrate in death the Prince Prospero." p.9-10. It appears the mummer has murdered the Prince but as the story concludes and those that remain "acknowledged the presence of the Red Death," p.10 proceed to drop one by one, my question becomes is the cause of their death an actual sickness or is the mummer responsible?
In the end the mummer is death itself. The Prince has failed to keep those he tried to keep hidden from their unavoidable deaths. Poe has shown us that death is ultimately unavoidable whether you hide in a cavern or simple stay out of a dark room, death will eventually get you right where it wants you.

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