The Pit and the Pendulum
How we cite our quotes:
The plunge into this pit I had avoided by the merest of accidents, and I knew that surprise or entrapment into torment formed an important portion of all the grotesquerie of these dungeon deaths. (22)
Here, again, we see our narrator coming to grips with his fate; it's as if we're watching him slowly put together the pieces of a puzzle.
The odour of the sharp steel forced itself into my nostrils. I prayed – I wearied heaven with my prayer for its more speedy descent. I grew frantically mad, and struggled to force myself upward against the sweep of the fearful scimitar. And then I fell suddenly calm and lay smiling at the glittering death as a child at some rare bauble. (23)
It's as if our narrator has gone into shock. On the brink of death, having reached the limit of madness, he reverts to an oblivious, child-like state.
It was hope that prompted the nerve to quiver – the frame to shrink. It was hope – the hope that triumphs on the rack – that whispers to the death-condemned even in the dungeons of the Inquisition. (28)
Perhaps there's some truth to the phrase "hope springs eternal." Because boy, if you have hope in this moment, you can have hope any time.