The Pit and the Pendulum by Edgar Allan Poe

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How many characters are in "The Pit and the Pendulum"? Who are they? 

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D. Reynolds eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The characters of the "Pit and the Pendulum" are as follows. We can confirm only two, plus an unknown number of captors and rats:

The narrator: The narrator has no name, but he has been arrested and imprisoned by the Inquisition and will be subjected to torture meant, ultimately, to kill him. He is kept in a dark room with a deep, round pit in the center that is filled with water and rats.

His captor(s): These are shadowy, elusive figures, whose existence is primarily confirmed by what they do while the narrator is passed out. He finds they have left bread, water, and meat that he can eat. He also finds himself bound by straps to a board. A pendulum, obviously set in motion by his captors, swings lower and lower, threatening to slice through his body.

The rats: When he rubs meat on his straps, the rats come and chew the straps off, which allows him to escape the pendulum.

General LaSalle: At the end of story, General LaSalle, who has come to liberate people from the Inquisition, saves the narrator from falling into the pit and drowning.

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katemschultz eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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There is one main character in "The Pit and the Pendulum"--the unnamed narrator who is the recipient of the torture. The captors of the narrator appear briefly, but indirectly. A trapdoor is opened and a light shines down on the narrator, so we can assume that his captors or a guard is checking in one him.

Other minor character are the rescuers at the end of the story, but they are only mentioned very briefly. You could also consider the rats as characters--they help the narrator achieve his goal of getting untied from the bench. The pit is such a strong force that it could be considered a character as well.

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