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The Pit and the Pendulum

The Pit and the Pendulum

by Edgar Allan Poe

The Pit and the Pendulum Analysis

Literary Devices in The Pit and the Pendulum

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

Setting

Rooted(ish) in HistorySpanish Inquisition. Ugh. Okay, we just had to get that out. We know from the very beginning of the story that it takes place during the Spanish Inquisition in Toledo, Spain....

Narrator Point of View

"The Pit and the Pendulum" is one of those stories that had to be written in the first person. If we weren't hearing the tale right from the source, it'd probably be a total bore. Nobody wants to h...

Genre

Horror: the word appears thirteen times in "The Pit and the Pendulum," and with good reason. It's the very thing the story is meant to evoke. What could be more horrible, really, than a dank dungeo...

Tone

With "The Pit and the Pendulum," Poe gives us a story as written by a man saved from the brink of death. Though our narrator has escaped execution, he cannot escape from his memory – and it shows...

Writing Style

Ah, the Drama of RhetoricPoe wants everyone reading "The Pit and the Pendulum" to feel what the narrator feels. Considering the things he feels – fear, terror, horror, etc. – it's no wonder tha...

What's Up With the Title?

Once you've read "The Pit and the Pendulum," the title seems pretty… obvious. Yes, the story features a pit and a pendulum, and, yes, they're two truly terrible torture devices. So what? The thin...

What's Up With the Epigraph?

Impia tortorum longas hic turba furorsSanguinis innocui, non satiata, aluit.Sospite nunc patria, fracto nunc funeris antro,Mors ubi dira fuit vita salusque patent.[Quatrain composed for the gates o...

What's Up With the Ending?

We know how the story ends from the beginning. Our narrator lives – of that we can be sure. Otherwise he wouldn't be our narrator, right? That said, though our story ends in life, we readers (and...

Tough-o-Meter

"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;...

Plot Analysis

Down and OutHere we have the basic premise: our man is locked in a cell, ready to be punished for who knows what crime. We don't know how he's going to be punished, but things don't look too good.W...

Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis

Anticipation Stage and "Call"At the beginning of "The Pit and the Pendulum," we get our one and only true glimpse of our hero's inquisitors. He hears his sentence pronounced, and sees the pale lips...

Three-Act Plot Analysis

The narrator is sentenced by the Inquisition and brought down to a mysterious dungeon. After attempting to figure out the nature of his prison, he falls down at the edge of a huge pit and faints. N...

Trivia

In Poe's case, life – or at least the end of life – imitated art. The story of his death is as spooky and perplexing as anything he wrote. According to legend, he was found lying in the gutter,...

Steaminess Rating

Wait, sex? What's sex? As you read "The Pit and the Pendulum," sex and anything remotely sexual will be as far from your mind as could possibly be. You'll be too busy thinking about death, torture,...

Allusions

The Book of Revelation 1:12-13 (though they're fuzzy)The Jacobin Club (1)Inquisitors, the Spanish Inquisition (throughout)Hades (1)
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