In Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Pit and the Pendulum'; and “The Masque of the Red Death';, the author uses different symbolism to illustrate the image of death. In both of these stories, death is the final result of a punishment, the end of a human’s life. However, in the first story, Poe shows us that there exists something in human ‘s life that is more terrible than death. And in the second story, Poe tells us that death is inevitable and it is useless if you try to escape it.
From the beginning of “The Pit and the Pendulum';, Poe starts to show us the desperation and the terror the narrator feels in the prison. He is alone and lost, he can’t see anything and hear any voice. It makes him feel hopeless and scared. The complete dark pit where the Inquisition shuts the narrator up creates an atmosphere of death and fear. The fact that the pit is an abyss makes the readers think of death. In addition, the ceiling of the prison where a huge pendulum with a scythe hangs shows that the narrator’s life is in danger. The image of death becomes clearer when the narrator finds out that the pendulum is in motion. “But what mainly disturbed me was the idea that it had perceptibly descended. I now observed- with what horror it is needless to say- that its neither extremity was formed of a crescent…';(68). Death becomes impossible to prevent in this case. Especially when the pendulum keeps going down. As Poe describes, “Down- still unceasingly- still inevitably down! I gasped and struggled at each vibration…';(70) However, when we all wait to see the end, the narrator is saved by the rats. This unexpected change gives us a message that life is full of unexpected and we can never lose hope.
But a more unimaginable thing happens right after the escape from the pendulum.
The prison (the pit) becomes hot like a heated iron. Moreover, “ a richer tint of crimson diffused itself over the pictured horrors of blood'; (72) Here, we can make a connection between blood and death easily. Once again, the narrator ‘s life is in menace. Fortunately, the narrator is saved at the last minute, but the terror and the fear he feels during that period seems more terrific than death. In fact, Poe shows us compare to the affliction the narrator suffers in the pit, death becomes a relief.