How was the narrator freed from his prison?

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After spending the bulk of the story building suspense centered on the narrator's predicament, Poe utilizes the deus ex machina literary technique to free the narrator from the prison where he has been tortured.

Deus ex machina is a device that authors use to resolve a seemingly unsolvable conflict in a story. It derives from an expression that means "god from the machine" and was used in early Greek plays when an actor playing a god or goddess intervened to end the conflict, typically by being hoisted onstage by a crane, or "machine."

At the end of "The Pit and the Pendulum," General LaSalle from the French army catches the narrator's outstretched arm and pulls him to safety. The French have come to liberate Toledo from the horrors of the Spanish Inquisition.

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For a while, the narrator did a pretty good job of saving himself. He was lucky enough not to fall into the pit while he was exploring the pitch black cell, as he fell to the ground close enough to realize the pit existed but not so close that he fell in. Also, when he woke to find himself tied down, he saved himself by spreading what was left of his food onto the ropes holding him down, thereby enticing the rats to eat through the ropes and help him free just before the pendulum could cut into him. However, when the walls literally start closing in around him, slowly forcing him towards the pit, his end seems near, but just as he is about to fall in, a hand grabs his arm: General Lasalle of the French army has arrived to end the branch of the Spanish Inquisition in Toledo, and he was just in time to save the narrator from falling to his death.

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