In what way can the poem "Inchcape Rock" by Robert Southey be said to illustrate the saying that evil digs a pit for himself but falls into the same?

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thanatassa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The poem "Inchcape Rock" by Robert Southey mimics the style of traditional border ballads, albeit using iambic tetrameter couplets arranged into four line stanzas rather than ballad meter. It is a narrative poem about a pirate, Sir Ralph the Rover.

In the poem, Inchcape Rock, a real rock on the east coast of Scotland, is a navigational hazard, and many ships were wrecked there because the rock was not visible in stormy weather or at high tide. The Abbot of Aberbrothok placed a bell on the rock to help mariners avoid it. Sir Ralph the Rover removed the bell so that ships would be wrecked on the rock and his crew could plunder the resulting wrecks.

The ending of the poem exemplifies the maxim that evil is caught in the pit it digs when Sir Ralph the Rover's ship is wrecked on Inchcape Rock in a storm due to his having removed the bell. As he dies:

One dreadful sound could the Rover hear; 
A sound as if with the Inchcape Bell, 
The Devil below was ringing his knell.