The Pit and the Pendulum Quotes by Edgar Allan Poe
The Pit and the Pendulum - Study Guide
Then the mere consciousness of existence, without thought — a condition which lasted long. Then, very suddenly, thought , and shuddering terror, and earnest endeavor to comprehend my true state. It seems like without thought, there can be no fear. So, which is the more desirable state? I longed, yet dared not, to employ my vision.
It was, as I say, a half formed thought--man has many such which are never completed. The nature of the narrator's punishment in "The Pit and the Pendulum" is that he is subjected to mental agitation and the anxiety of suspense and of the unknown. However, the narrator has too strong a presence of mind to succumb immediately to his terror, so much of the tale is a story about his inner battle against fear-induced insanity. This quote emphasizes the weak and temporary nature of his hope and highlights the tension between hope and despair in the narrator's thoughts. In the end, he keeps his mind working because of the fleeting but recurring feeling of hope that prevents him from wholly giving in to the despair of waiting for his death, and his hope is proven warranted when he is rescued at the end by General Lasalle. He had come like a thief in the night. The Red Death reveals himself in the seventh and final room of Prince Prospero's masquerade ball.
From the SparkNotes Blog
I gasped for breath! Oh most unrelenting! - The screenplay by Richard Matheson was loosely inspired by Edgar Allan Poe 's short story of the same name.
The Pit and the Pendulum is one of Edgar Allan Poe 's best known gothic tales, offering plenty of literary allusions and a particularly graphic narrative. We hope this study guide is useful for teachers and students to more fully appreciate the story. Unnamed Prisoner - The narrator is condemned to death by sinister judges, supposedly during the Spanish Inquisition, who incarcerate him in a hellish prison cell, where he experiences terror after terror. General Lasalle - Napoleon's general who rescues the Inquisition prisoner from his torturers just in the nick of time. The Rats - The unlikely heroes of the story, who chew the prisoner's bindings loose so he can escape the descending pendulum before it slices him to death. The Cell - OK, the prison cell isn't a character per se, but it is a mysterious, transformative and shrinking torture chamber that makes for an interesting dynamic in the story. Nevermind the most terrifying feature, a glowing pit of fire.
An unnamed narrator opens the story by revealing that he has been sentenced to death during the time of the Inquisition—an institution of the Catholic government in fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Spain that persecuted all Protestants and heretical Catholics. Upon receiving his death sentence, the narrator swoons, losing consciousness. When he wakes, he faces complete darkness. He is afraid that he has been locked in a tomb, but he gets up and walks a few paces. This mobility then leads him to surmise that he is not in a tomb, but perhaps in one of the dungeons at Toledo, an infamous Inquisition prison. He decides to explore.
The Pit and the Pendulum" Symbolism: Although the events in the story create suspense and interest, its the story's deeper meaning that makes it so good. Stripped of extraneous detail, the story focuses on what horror truly is: not the physical pain of death, but the terrible realization that a victim has no choice. The descent reminds the reader of hell in that it is beneath the surface of the ground. Also, when the soldier describes the mad rushing, it can represent hell because nothing in hell is supposed to be orderly or calm. In the Bible, hell is described as a chaotic.