The Pit and the Pendulum by Edgar Allan Poe

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How does the conclusion of "The Pit in the Pendulum" impact its overall meaning?

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One does not associate Edgar Allan Poe's stories with happy endings. Because of this, the reader may be surprised by the sudden reversal of fortune at the end of "The Pit and the Pendulum." After all the narrator's terrible trials, he is suddenly saved by General Lasalle himself, the ultimate deus ex machina, who has ahistorically led the French army into Toledo and vanquished the forces of the Inquistion.

The ahistorical element here may provide a clue to Poe's attitude, and certainly has an impact on the overall meaning and effect of the story. Critics have written much about the historical inaccuracies in "The Pit and the Pendulum," several of which, such as the sudden entrance of General Lasalle, would have been so easy to check and correct, that we seem to be left with two alternatives. Either Poe simply did not care about the historical accuracy of his story and never troubled himself about the details, or he muddled the historical details intentionally, to create a confused,...

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