Using Literary Devices to Compare “the Masque of the Read Death, ” by Edgar Allan Poe, and “the Last Question, ” by Isaac Asimov.

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In “The Masque of the Red Death,” by Edgar Allan Poe, an epidemic disease called The Read Death inflicts massive death and destruction upon a people of a fictional country. Prince Prospero, however, is hopeful that he and his dominions will survive. He summons his friends and knights and retreats to within the castle walls confident that they will fend off the plague. After several months he decides to throw a masquerade ball. At midnight a ghastly figure appears; the plaque has infiltrated the castle. The plague kills Prospero after going after the guest who has so little humor and levity. When the remaining guests try to attack the figure, it is revealed that there is no one beneath the costume and the guests all perish. In “The Last Question,” by Isaac Asimov, the last question is asked multiple times over trillions of years, as the story is told in vignettes. After the sun is harnessed as a source of energy, mankind expands throughout the universe at an exponential rate. The last question is asked for the first time over a five dollar bet. The question that is asked to the Multivac supercomputer is, “How can the net amount of entropy of the universe be massively decreased?” The humans realize that all the suns in the universe will run down, entropy will reach a maximum, and everything in the universe will cease to exist. As the last question is asked to several different super computers by several different humans, and then by a single collective human conscience, the answer received evolves from “INSUFFICIENT DATA FOR MEANINGFUL ANSWER”, to, “THERE IS AS YET INSUFFICIENT DATA FOR A MEANINGFUL ANSWER.” The AC finally answers the last question and reverse entropy, but it is too late for humankind (Asimov). It is human nature to avoid the end is a theme present in both “The Masque of the Read Death,” by Edgar Allan Poe, and “The Last Question,” by

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