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We've got your back. With the Tough-O-Meter, you'll know whether to bring extra layers or Swiss army knives as you summit the literary mountain. (10 = Toughest)

(6) Tree Line

"The Pit and the Pendulum" is a simple story in that it pretty much goes right for the gut. Poe definitely wants to communicate directly with his readers and make them feel what his narrator feels; in that way, you can't help but understand what the narrator is going through.

But at the same time, there are a few difficulties. First, Poe just loves him some big words and long sentences. We had to break out dictionary out more than once for this story. More importantly, though, the narrator's trials and tribulations lead him (and you!) to think deeply about complex issues, including consciousness and issues of life and death. It's not as if Poe's grabbing you by the collar and dragging you along – you have to pull some weight here, too.

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