Wednesday, November 24, 2010

"The Pit and the Pendulum"

Edgar Allan Poe's great short story, "The Pit and the Pendulum," is so full of characteristics of Dark Romanticism. For example, the main character in the story is trapped in a dark room for the first rough half of the story. He has nothing to do but try to explore his vast cavern of a prison chamber. He thinks he makes one revolution around the room, but he totally miscalculated his distance he traveled, and the room was a lot smaller than he had first thought. Then, as his confidence grew, the man ventured out toward the middle of the room, but he tripped! Luckily, he tripped and fell just in time, for in two or three more steps, he would have fallen into a sort of well to meet his untimely death thereafter. The reader never knows what will come next for the narrator, which is a key part of Dark Romanticist writing. In fact, the ending seemed to have come way to early. I thought he would escape his tomb, which he did, but it ended so abruptly. I wish there was a fight with his captors or something to give justice to the poor man, especially after seventy thousand rats were jumping all over him, trying to eat the flesh from the still living character. Also, majorly tied up in this story, fear has a lot to do with Dark Romanticism. In "The Pit and the Pendulum," the narrator has no idea what would ever happen to his near future. He could have died at any time. This is true also in that the pendulum swung so very near his beating chest. The rats could have killed him, or the pit in his first chamber cell. Really, he had probably five or six possible ways of death. He could have drowned, starved, eaten, cut in half, or something simple like tripping in the cell and falling on the hard ground and hitting his head. It is extremely possible to kill yourself doing that. As he went through this traumatic experience, he had no control over his emotions, either, because he had no clue to what his future could be. His death seemed so eminent that he had no time to dwell on emotions. Finally, of course, this entire story is one big mystery in that, again, the man does not know what could happen in his future. Personally, I would have cried. It is commendable that he did not take himself out in the pit because it must have just been so looming, sitting there in front of him, practically mocking him. Then, it was mysterious for him to try to figure out a way out of his chamber. He searched and searched for a way out of the first one, and he found a slight possibility, which was just outside a small crack running all the way around the room. It was just large enough to let light in, but that did not stop him from trying to get out through it. Also, how the prison was liberated just in time was quite mysterious, but I suppose that worked as an ending, since the story was not heading in the direction of an end to the story.


Poe, Edgar Allan. “The Pit and the Pendulum.” Glencoe Literature. Ed. Jeffrey Wilhelm. American Literature ed. Colombus: McGraw-Hill, 2010. 263-273. Print.

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