The Pit and the Pendulum by Edgar Allan Poe

The Pit and the Pendulum book cover
Start Your Free Trial

Download The Pit and the Pendulum Study Guide

Subscribe Now

Critical Discussion

Poe places the narrator/protagonist of "The Pit and the Pendulum" in a situation of bounded isolation: he cannot escape his surroundings nor can he directly communicate with anyone, even his torturers. Like several other characters in Poe's tales, the narrator's situation is one that provides no exit. Given this, some scholars have interpreted the story as an existential allegory about the human condition at large. Even if individuals are fortunate enough the escape the accidental death of the pit, all mortals are subject to the relentless approach of inevitable death from Time.

But Poe also introduces glimmers of hope into the story. Not only is the narrator unexpectedly rescued from the Inquisition, the tale's author uses the narrator's commentary to advance his theory that "even in the grave all is not lost," that consciousness persists after death and can...

(The entire section is 284 words.)