Upon receiving his death sentence, the narrator swoons, losing consciousness. When he wakes, he faces complete darkness. He is afraid that he has been locked in a tomb, but he gets up and walks a few paces.
In "The Pit and the Pendulum," Poe apparently had in mind the effects of unrelieved torture and suspense. The story begins with the trial of the narrator, as he sits before seven very severe judges; he is "sick — sick unto death," because the judges have an "immoveable resolution — of stern contempt of human torture.
After swooning, the narrator awakens in total darkness; before opening his eyes, he imagines the horrors that await him. At last, his worse fears are confirmed: This concept often appears in Poe's fiction — that is, a person will be physically dead, but he will still retain the mental ability to know things after the death of the physical body.
After many moments of suspense, he investigates his situation. He knows that he is condemned to death; but the method and the time for his execution are unknown to him. Since he has heard so much about the horrors of the dungeons, he is certain that he is in one of those dungeons. After feeling around, he determines that it is in the shape of a vault.
The floors are covered with slime, but carefully feeling his way around, he calculates that the vault is about fifty feet wide.
He then begins to traverse the vault, but he slips on the slimy floor and falls.
His body hits the floor and he discovers that his head lies on the perimeter of a seemingly bottomless, circular pit. A few steps more and he would have fallen to a horrible death.
Arousing from a sleep, he finds by his side a loaf of bread and a pitcher of water. After drinking deeply, he realizes that the water must have been drugged since he immediately loses consciousness again, and later, when he is again awake, there is a sulfurous light which reveals that the walls are one-half their original size.
Logically, he tries to determine how he originally made such an error. He knows that he is in the same place because of the horrible, dismal circular pit. But to his horror, he is now completely bound head and foot, except for his left hand up to his left elbow.
He is bound to a "species of low framework of wood. Turning to survey the rest of the vault, he sees enormous rats running across the slimy floor.
After watching the rats for about thirty minutes, he again looks at the pendulum and is horrified to realize that the sweep has increased considerably and even more disturbing, it has descended.
Now he "can no longer doubt the doom prepared for [him] by monkish ingenuity in torture. It seems as though it is days before the pendulum comes so close to him that the "odor of the sharp steel forced itself into my nostrils," but eventually it does, and when the pendulum vibrates within only three inches of his breast, he calmly reasons that the pendulum will cut his bandages before it will cut him.Bound in glorious purple, this new edition of Edgar Allan Poe’s tales from Oxford World’s Classics reprints some neglected Poe tales among the usual classics.
Edgar Allan Poe has a claim to being the originator of the modern short story. Free summary and analysis of the events in Edgar Allan Poe's The Pit and the Pendulum that won't make you snore.
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Home / Literature / The Pit and the Pendulum / As the story begins, our narrator is being sentenced to death by a panel of black-robed, pale-faced judges.
The Pit and the Pendulum by Edgar Allan Poe. Home / Literature / The Pit and the Pendulum / The Pit and the Pendulum Analysis Literary Devices in The Pit and the Pendulum.
Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory "The Pit and the Pendulum" is a simple story in that it pretty much goes right for the gut. Poe definitely wants to communicate . Summary.
As Poe repeatedly maintained in his critical views, the most successful story occurs when the author decides what effect or effects he wants to achieve and then decides what techniques to use to achieve that effect. In "The Pit and the Pendulum," Poe apparently had in mind the effects of unrelieved torture and suspense.
'The Pit and the Pendulum' is a short story about the horror surrounding impending death after the narrator is sentenced for heresy by his .
The Pit and the Pendulum Analysis Edgar Allan Poe. Grim Phantasms: Fear in Poe’s Short Fiction by the narrator of this story would be the pit and the pendulum, so the story .