The Pit and the Pendulum by Edgar Allan Poe

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The Pit and the Pendulum by Edgar Allan Poe Edgar Allan Poe's "The Pit and the pendulum demonstrate an arabesque look at the human mind. Part of the terror of "The Pit and the Pendulum" stems from the apocalyptic imagery with which Poe establishes his narrative framework. The narrator of the tale seems not to parallel the characters of Poe's other tales, in that he is very sane and his torture comes from without rather than from within. Poe has used apocalyptic imagery in many of his works (Spealght 235). Condemned to torture and death by the black-robed, white-lipped judges of the Inquisition in the opening scene of the tale, the narrator observes seven candles, which first dissolve in his mind into seven angels wearing an "aspect of charity" and then, disconcertingly, into "meaningless specters, with heads of flame." The angels and candles allude to Revelation Beard-The Pit and the Pendulum-2 1.12-14: "I saw seven golden candlesticks; and in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. His head and his hair were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire." By beginning the tale with the narrator's trial and death sentence and by couching these events in apocalyptic imagery, Poe heralds the narrator's, and hence the reader's, entrance into a nightmare world of punishment, dissolution, and death, an announcement amply fulfilled by the violence, pain, and horror experienced by the narrator in his prison cell. Although its presence is less immediately apparent in the tale, the Book of Revelation also sets forth the promise of salvation; the eternal life granted the fait... ... middle of paper ... ...emingly to diminish his faith in his own power. But the moment he gives up and commits himself to the final descent into the pit, the moment he gives up any hope of saving himself, an arm reaches out and saves him. "This unexpected salvation gives the story a pattern of moral allegory that would at first seem to contradict Poe's own critical objections to didacticism"(Lundquist 2). And the way that the story's turning point is described in symbolic language underscores the figurative structure: "There Beard-The Pit and the Pendulum-8 was a loud blast as of many trumpets! There was a harsh grating as of a thousand thunders! The fiery walls rushed back!" (Poe 12). "The arrival of Lasalle in Toledo is announced as if it were the second coming" (Hirsch 3). Often times a rough life can lead to dark literature.
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