The Pit and the Pendulum by Edgar Allan Poe

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Explain the dark romanticism in "The Pit and the Pendulum." Elaborate on the torture devices in "The Pit and the Pendulum."

Explain the dark romanticism in "The Pit and the Pendulum."

Elaborate on the torture devices in "The Pit and the Pendulum."

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Edgar Allan Poe was a Dark Romantic writer who wanted to leave behind what was rational and tangible in the world to discover the unsettling truth that lies in the dark, irrational depths of the human mind. In the short story entitled "The Pit and the Pendulum," there is an emphasis on punishment, horror, darkness, and the psychological effects of uncontrollable irrationality and fear, the inscrutable, and evil as a destructive force.

The narrator has been condemned by the Spanish Inquisition, and he finds himself in variable states of consciousness, declaring that he is "sick—sick unto death with that long agony." He also seems hallucinatory as he describes the inquisitional voices as a "dreamy indeterminate hum." He first imagines "angel forms" that later become "meaningless specters with heads of flame" as he has a transcendent experience. Further, he slips in and out of consciousness, and as he recovers somewhat, he senses that walls enclose him. Having put a piece of his robe at the beginning of where he starts, the prisoner walks around the walls. Then, he decides to cross the area, but when the remnant of his robe trips him, he finds that part of his face does not touch the floor; he has fallen at the edge of a pit. He realizes that if he were to have fallen, he would most likely break bones, but not die—"the sudden extinction of life formed no part of their most horrible plan." 

Later, after the narrator awakens from his exhaustion, he finds himself strapped to a wooden frame. All that he can move are his head and his left arm with which he is able to feed himself. Although the food is heavily spiced, there is no water for the prisoner. When he looks up, the prisoner sees a giant pendulum that swings down over him. At the same time, he notices rats scurrying about the floor, attracted by the scent of the meat he has been given. Soon, too, he sees that the pendulum is moving closer to him and its movement has increased. "Like a razor, also, massive and heavy. . . . " this moving blade causes the narrator to sense the "grotesquerie of this...

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bookM.A. from Arcadia University


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