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The Pit and the Pendulum

by Edgar Allan Poe
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What is the tone of Poe's "The Pit and the Pendulum"?

Expert Answers

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Edgar Allan Poe's "The Pit and the Pendulum" is one of his many Gothic short stories. As with most American Gothic literature, the tone (or mood) of the story is one of the primary elements that make it Gothic. In this story, prisoner of war is in a torture chamber. Due to the first person point-of-view, the audience knows as little about the setting as the narrator, and most of the story takes place in the dark. As a result, a very specific tone is set.

The story is scary and eerie, first and foremost. There is a distinct element of fear present. It is also a mysterious tone, because so many questions are left unanswered, and so much is taking place in the dark. Between the fear and the mystery, the narrator goes in and out of fits of seeming madness and anxiety, creating a further tone of hysteria. Certainly, though the story is short, it is thrilling and intense from beginning to end.

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