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The Pit and the Pendulum

The Pit and the Pendulum

by Edgar Allan Poe

Versions of Reality Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #4

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. I thrust my arms wildly above and around me in all directions. I felt nothing; yet dreaded to move a step, lest I should be impeded by the walls of a tomb. (7)

In this case, the narrator is unwilling to or afraid of confronting reality; he's already come up with the worst case scenario. And while it might be nice to disprove his theory, he's equally afraid of having his suspicions confirmed.

Quote #5

How long it lasted of course I know not; but when once again I unclosed my eyes the objects around me were visible. By a wild sulphurous lustre, the origin of which I could not at first determine, I was enabled to see the extent and aspect of the prison.

In its size I had been greatly mistaken. The whole circuit of its walls did not exceed twenty-five yards. For some minutes this fact occasioned me a world of vain trouble; vain indeed – for what could be of less importance, under the terrible circumstances which environed me than the mere dimensions of my dungeon? But my soul took a wild interest in trifles, and I busied myself in endeavours to account for the error I had committed in my measurement. The truth at length flashed upon me… I had been deceived too in respect to the shape of the enclosure. In feeling my way I had found many angles, and thus deduced an idea of great irregularity, so potent is the effect of total darkness upon one arousing from lethargy or sleep! (15-16)

There is a sense of desperation in the narrator's thoughts here. To be so clueless, so totally "in the dark" about something so basic, is a frightening feeling. It makes us feel like we're dreaming, right?

Quote #6

These colours had now assumed, and were momentarily assuming, a startling and most intense brilliancy, that give to the spectral and fiendish portraitures an aspect that might have thrilled even firmer nerves than my own. Demon eyes, of a wild and ghastly vivacity, glared upon me in a thousand directions where none had been visible before, and gleamed with the lurid lustre of a fire that I could not force my imagination to regard as unreal.

Unreal! – Even while I breathed there came to my nostrils the breath of the vapour of heated iron! A suffocating odour pervaded the prison! A deeper glow settled each moment in the eyes that glared at my agonies! A richer tint of crimson diffused itself over the pictured horrors of blood. I panted. I gasped for breath! (36-37)

This is the moment when the narrator simply can't continue deceiving himself any longer. Even the most nightmarish aspects of his situation are real, and he has to deal with that fact whether or not he likes it.

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