Introduction to "The Fall of the House of Usher" and "Ligeia" These stories represent the highest achievements in the literary genre of the gothic horror story. By gothic, one means that the author emphasizes the grotesque, the mysterious, the desolate, the horrible, the ghostly, and, ultimately, the abject fear that can be aroused in either the reader or in the viewer. Almost everyone is familiar with such characters as Dr. Frankenstein's monster and Count Dracula, two of today's pop culture horror characters who evolve from the gothic tradition, and it is probably not an exaggeration to say that most adults in the Western world have been exposed to some type of gothic tale or ghost story.
Plot summary[ edit ] The unnamed narrator is brought to trial before sinister judges of the Spanish Inquisition. Poe provides no explanation of why he is there or of the charges on which he is being tried.
Before him are seven tall white candles on a table, and, as they burn down, his hopes of survival also diminish. He is condemned to death, whereupon he faints and later awakens to find himself in a totally dark room.
At first the prisoner thinks that he is locked in a tomb, but then he discovers that he is in a cell. He decides to explore the cell by placing a scrap of his robe against the wall so that he can count the paces around the room, but he faints before he can measure the whole perimeter.
When he reawakens, he discovers food and water nearby. He tries to measure the cell again, and finds that the perimeter measures one hundred steps. While crossing the room, he trips on the hem of his robe and falls, his chin landing at the edge of a deep pit. He realizes that had he not tripped, he would have fallen into this pit.
After losing consciousness again, the narrator discovers that the prison is slightly illuminated and that he is strapped to a wooden frame on his back, facing the ceiling.
Above him is a picture of Father Timewith a razor-sharp pendulum measuring "one foot from horn to horn" suspended from it. The pendulum is swinging back and forth and slowly descending, designed to kill the narrator eventually. However, he is able to attract rats to him by smearing his bonds with the meat left for him to eat.
The rats chew through the straps, and he slips free just before the pendulum can begin to slice into his chest.
The pendulum is withdrawn into the ceiling, and the walls become red-hot and start to move inwards, forcing him slowly toward the center of the room and the pit. As he loses his last foothold and begins to topple in, he hears a roar of voices and trumpets, the walls retract, and an arm pulls him to safety.
Lack of historical authenticity[ edit ] Poe makes no attempt to describe accurately the operations of the Spanish Inquisition, and takes considerable dramatic license with the broader history premised in this story. The elaborate tortures of this story have no historic parallels in the activity of the Spanish Inquisition in any century, let alone the nineteenth when under Charles III and Charles IV only four persons were condemned.
The Inquisition was, however, abolished during the period of French intervention — The original source of the pendulum torture method is one paragraph in the preface the book The history of the Inquisition of Spain by the Spanish priest, historian and activist Juan Antonio Llorente.
Most modern sources dismiss this as fantasy. Poe places a Latin epigraph before the story, describing it as "a quatrain composed for the gates of a market to be erected upon the site of the Jacobin Club House at Paris ".
Poe emphasizes this element of sound with such words as "surcingle," "cessation," "crescent," and "scimitar", and various forms of literary consonance.Free research essays on topics related to: poe the cask of amontillado, end of the story, pit and the pendulum, edgar allan poe, poe short stories 9 results found, view free essays on page: 1.
The horrors of the Spanish Inquisition, with its dungeon of death, and the overhanging gloom on the House of Usher demonstrate unforgettably the unique imagination of Edgar Allan Poe. Unerringly, he touches upon some of our greatest nightmares: Premature burial, ghostly transformation, words from beyond the grave. Related Articles. THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM. Poe, Edgar Allan // Collected Works of Poe, Volume II;, p The short story "The Pit and the Pendulum" by Edgar Allan Poe is presented. The Pit and the Pendulum Homework Help Questions. Please explain some of the symbolism in "The Pit and the Pendulum." This story is full of symbolism.
The Pit and the Pendulum; By: Edgar Allan Poe Edgar Allan Poe. Through the tortures of the Spanish Inquisition, we follow the straying mind of the unnamed prisoner in his quest for hope in a world of darkness and despair.
In this definitive collection of essays, including the poignant title essay "Self-Reliance," Ralph Waldo Emerson. The Pit and the Pendulum essays"The Pit and the Pendulum" is a short story written by Edgar Allan Poe and uses themes such as the conflict between physical and mental aspects of the human body.
Poe also uses religion as a major theme in this story.
A Historical Guide to Edgar Allan Poe. New York: Oxford University Press, New York: Oxford University Press, May, Charles E.
Edgar Allan Poe: A Study of the Short Fiction. "The Pit and the Pendulum" Share! Topics: Books Tags: edgar allan poe, horror stories, the raven, the cask of amontillado, the tell-tale heart, creepy stories, annabel lee, the black cat, poe, quoth the raven texts galore.
50 Essay Topics for the Most SparkNoted Books;. The Pit and the Pendulum essays"The Pit and the Pendulum" is a short story written by Edgar Allan Poe and uses themes such as the conflict between physical and mental aspects of the human body.
Poe also uses religion as a major theme in this story.