List at least five horrifying details of the setting in "The Pit and the Pendulum." Which detail did you find most effective in evoking horror? Why?

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chelseaosborne314 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I find the entirety of the setting of The Pit and the Pendulum to be rather horrifying, but five of the more horrifying details, in my own opinion, are in no particular order:

  • The utter blackness of the cell at the beginning
  • The gaping pit in the floor
  • The pendulum hanging from the ceiling
  • The rats
  • The glowing demon eyes of the paintings once they changed

Of these five, I find it difficult to choose which of two is the most horrifying: the darkness and the pendulum. The pitch blackness of the cell has two layers of fear; not only do you have the fear of darkness, you have the fear of the unknown, too, because you have no idea what is with you in the darkness.
The pendulum is also frightening because you can see the sharp blade descending towards you slowly, and you know you have the time to escape; but being tied down while watching it descend, knowing that you cannot stop its swinging would be terrifying. Those two are the most frightening for me, but maybe the darkness has just a small edge on the pendulum.

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The Pit and the Pendulum

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