Ideas for Reports and Papers
1. Many short story writers in America in the nineteenth century said that they wanted to write a story that seemed like a dream or a nightmare. Show how "The Pit and the Pendulum" is such a story.
2. In some very basic ways, the situation of the narrator in the story suggests that it is a universal human dilemma and that he is a figure representing everyman. Explain how this allegorical reading of the story can be supported.
3. Although the story deals with a horrifying dilemma and makes use of violent actions, it does not seem as shocking as many horror films today. Why not?
4. There is only one character in this story, and all we know about him directly is that he is caught in a horrifying dilemma. Describe what we can infer about his personality from his behavior; discuss how he attempts to cope with his situation.
5. How would you characterize the kinds of fears and anxieties that the protagonist faces? In what ways are they like fears and anxieties that all of us have?