The Pit and the Pendulum
How we cite our quotes:
Then the mere consciousness of existence, without thought – a condition which lasted long. Then, very suddenly, thought, and shuddering terror, and earnest endeavor to comprehend my true state. (4)
It seems like without thought, there can be no fear. So, which is the more desirable state?
I longed, yet dared not, to employ my vision. I dreaded the first glance at objects around me. It was not that I feared to look upon things horrible, but that I grew aghast lest there should be nothing to see. At length, with a wild desperation at heart, I quickly unclosed my eyes. My worst thoughts, then, were confirmed. The blackness of eternal night encompassed me. (5)
It's strange to think, considering how many terrible things our narrator might see, that it's the prospect of seeing nothing at all that scares him the most. Is he just afraid of the dark? What's going on here?
A fearful idea now suddenly drove the blood in torrents upon my heart, and for a brief period I once more relapsed into insensibility. Upon recovering, I at once started to my feet, trembling convulsively in every fibre. (6)
Our narrator can only handle so much – too much worry and terror and he lapses into "insensibility." There's only so much a man can take in one day, no?