Emned by a panel of black robed white lipped stern faced judges His crime is unknown but then this is the Inuisition so his offense could be that he is not a Catholic or not religious enough or he might have been accused of one of the many offences against God that reuire such a low level of proof The Inuisition was not only about condemning and punishing but also these thunderously righteous monks seemed inordinately fascinated with eliciting the most psychological and physical pain inspired terror as possibleThe judges pass judgement but do not tell him how he is to die If I knew I was going to be beheaded or hanged or drawn and uartered at least I could mentally prepare myself for my death Visualizing it would somewhat help me come to peace with it Not to say I still wouldn t void my bladder at the first sight of the gallows or the executioner s blade or the bristling rows of rifles all pointed at my heart Our narrator finds himself in a cell nay a vault with hideous pictures on the walls damp stone enclosing him all sides bundles of writhing rats and a deep pit that seems to be an abyss into hell The pit is supposed to be his death but he discovers it just before plunging to his demise Death I said any death but that of the pit Hold that thoughtHe swoons out of fear or from some mild intoxicant that they lace his food and drink with pure speculation on my part and each time he comes to his senses there is food and drink at his side He is grateful for the sustenance but this ratchets up the fear that he is so helpless that someone came and went without his knowledge Whenever I read an Edgar Allan Poe I m always struck by the way he puts a sliver of fear in the reader and then in progressive paragraphs continues to rend that sliver of uneasiness wider He lets loose spiders of dread that run amuck in the mind leaving tendrils of webbing behind that vibrate jangling the nerves and firing synapses until they burn out like collapsing stars I need a nap after reading a Poe story but who wants to sleep with all those fresh nightmares crowding the mind waiting to pluck the boundaries of our sanity like petals on a flowerThe pit may not have worked but these resourceful monks have tricks up their voluminous sleeves Our plucky narrator wakes from another swoon to find himself strapped to a wooden framed bed and something truly insidious is descending from the ceiling The sweep of the pendulum had increased in extent by nearly a ard As a natural conseuence its velocity was also much greater But what mainly disturbed me was the idea that had perceptibly descended I now observed with what horror it is needless to say that its nether extremity was formed of a crescent of glittering steel about a foot in length from horn to horn the horns upward and the under edge evidently as keen as that of a razor Like a razor also it seemed massy and heavy tapering from the edge into a solid and broad structure above It was appended to a weighty rod of brass and the whole hissed as it swung through the air My office was feeling a bit stuffy as I was reading this story which might have been induced by feelings of being trapped inspired uite possibly by Poe I turned on the overhead fan and as Poe describes the descent of the blade on the pendulum I could feel my anxiety levels increasing exponentially It took me a moment to realize that the hum generated by the fan was adding to my agitation I stood to go turn the fan off but then realized that since I am probably healthy enough to sustain the higher terror levels I should continue to allow the hum from the fan to enhance my reading experience SHIVERTo add to the narrator s already high level of horror is something that is part of his nature as it is of minehope It is difficult to believe as dire as a circumstance can be that this is truly ourfinal extinction Something or someone will save us Maybe even the God we have offended according to the self righteous monks will intercede As long as there is hope there is the possibility of inducing and fear in the prisoner Once a person has given up accepted their death adding and creative aspects of torture are futile and dare I say no longer entertaining Edgar Allan PoeI often think of the nightmares of Poe The demons that stalked the graveyards of his memories The screams that must have emanated from his bedroom when a fresh horror had him by the throat I can see him reaching with trembling hands for pen and paper with the beginnings of a smile turning up the corners of his mouth There are only about 6600 words in this story but I was pleasantly surprised to have notated so many great uotable lines There are way too many for one review but it gives ou an idea of the power of Poe s writing I ve read this story at least three times over my lifetime and still every time I read it I feel the chills racing up and down my spine Now I need a nap or better Hatch yet a double espresso Ifou wish to see of my most recent book and movie reviews visit also have a Facebook blogger page at As the doorbell rings nearly incessantly and the frigid air seeps into my living room I am all tucked up in a corner of the couch with my fluffy blanket a glass of The Velvet Devil Merlot and a book of tales from the master of horror Edgar Allan Poe I m leaving the job of distributing candy to the hubby while my teen son oversees the execution of his annual Halloween light and music show which grows increasingly elaborate each ear I can t think of a better way to spend the eveningThe Pit and the Pendulum is a classic one that keeps ou in the grip of horror while the tension mounts relentlessly The torture chamber of the Inuisition is a place A French Star in New York The French Girl you will relish reading about but do expect to get a grand case of the willies by the timeou reach that last sentence Oh and that ending perfect The Pit and the Pendulum published in 1842 is one of Poe s most famous tales of horror It does not have a supernatural element but relies on evoking fear in What makes this one a bit hair raising is its radical two point climax curve The guy nearly dies at the pit then nearly dies at the pendulum SAT words galore as well as the best known anecdote of death at the Inuisition at least for me makes it easily an essential read Just for horror writers Here s a wealth of adjectives verbs that describe dread the absolute horror of an impending death. S heavy focus on the senses emphasizing its reality unlike many of Poe's stories which are aided by the supernatura.
A classic of sensational horror The Pit and the Pendulum is also for me one of the Poe stories that most closely resembles and certainly influences later writers such as Franz Kafka Here we have several Kafka like elements a judgment pronounced by distant stern inhuman judges with n Book Review 3 of 5 stars to The Pit and the Pendulum a short story written in 1842 by Edgar Allan Poe As in the tradition of Poe s other Gothic and gory tales this one takes the fear of death to new heights Poe tells the story of a man facing punishment during the Spanish Inuisition a death like no other At first he s strapped to a wooden table while a pendulum swings If ou see Poe s pit and pendulum as metaphors for the psychological state of being trapped between two bad choices it makes sense in much less dramatic situations than the one he chose Should I stay in an environment that is toxic or jump into the unknown pitShould I sell the rotten stocks or should I keep themShould I speak up or stay uietShould I work for another hour or open a bottle of wineShould I buy the book or save the money though that is not really a choiceShould I let myself be caught by Scylla or CharybdisIf ou ask Freezing Point yourself enough uestionsou will always end up in Greek mythology as a source at some point won t Folk og røvere i Kardemomme by you And then the uestion is is there an Odyssean way of getting out of the nightmare of two bad choices In Poe s nightmare should I dream on until the bitter end or should I wake up and walk out The worst fear is the feeling of passive choiceless suffering something that Poe s Christian Inuisition theme is much better at evoking than Odysseus whose thrifty approach to finding the third way is famous for a reasonThe third way for me often than not means reading about the fears I face and feeling part of a community that is larger than the pit where I live my life watching the pendulum of my time spent Zooming out watching Poe create an atmosphere of choking anxiety bizarrely soothes me and my nerves As his pit grows darker and deeper mine shrinks to a minor bump in the road and as his pendulum accelerates mine looks like a fork in the pathSo whenever my worrying mind creates that inner choice between nightmares I opt out I choose the third roadShould I worry or despair I take the book not readet and it will make all the difference At age twelve I was given my first introduction to the world of literature by my mother who read me Poe s The Pit and the Pendulum I can still vividly recollect living through the horrors of the chamber with the unnamed narrator wondering why Christian monks would construct such a room and why Christian monks would inflict such torture I still wrestle with a number of the story s themesSADISMWhy do such a thing The story s torture chamber is not a makeshift construction slapped together rather with its pendulum descending in mathematical precision and its collapsing metal walls turning red hot to assemble such a bizarre intricate room would take sophisticated engineering huge resources and lots of time perhaps Pure Excitement years What does such a room say about the Western monastic tradition and the mentality of monksIn The Distant Mirror The Calamitous 14th Century author Barbara W Tuchman richly portrays the psychology of these chaotic disorderly times For example she writes In village games players with hands tied behind them competed to kill a cat nailed to a post by battering it to death with their heads at the risk of cheeks ripped open or eyes scratched out by the frantic animal s claws Trumpets enhanced the excitement Or a pig enclosed in a wide pen was chased by men with clubs to the laughter of spectators as he ran suealing from the blows until beaten lifeless Accustomed in their own lives to physical hardship and injury medieval men and women were not necessarily repelled by the spectacle of pain but rather enjoyed it It may be that the untender medieval infancy produced adults who valued others no than they had been valued in their own formativeears Nowadays we have a name for untender infancy child abuse We also have a word for enjoying the spectacle of pain inflicted on others sadism Of course the effects of child abuse and living in a society accepting sadism as the norm would not disappear when men became monks What undoubtedly added fuel to this psychological fire was a religion and theology giving a central place to guilt and sin and thus turning men against their own bodies and specifically again their own sexuality Reaching absolute conclusions about the mindset of peoples living centuries ago can never be an exact science but it doesn t take too much imagination to understand how such a life in such a time would produce a population of dark twisted people Poe s tale takes place in 1820s not the 1350s but how much did the psychology of the monasteries really change in these earsALTERED STATES OF CONSCIOUSNESSIn the beginning stages of the narrator s ordeal he conveys the following Very suddenly there came back to my soul motion and sound the tumultuous motion of the heart and in my ears the sound of its beating Then a pause in which all is blank Then again sound and motion and touch a tingling sensation pervading my frame Then the mere consciousness of existence without thought a condition which lasted long Teachers within the various oga and Buddhist traditions talk about the consciousness of existence without thought that is the gap between thoughts In such a gap between thoughts we are given a glimpse of the ground of being pure awareness of space This awareness can be developed through meditation or occasionally experienced through such things as hallucinogens trance or as with the narrator of Poe s tale extreme emotional statesFEARAdding to the fear of actual physical suffering there is the fear we project with our minds and imaginations The narrator s imagination is afire And now as I still continued to step cautiously onward there came thronging upon my recollection a thousand vague rumors of the horrors of Toledo Of the dungeons there had been strange things narrated fables I had always deemed them but et strange and too ghastly to repeat save in a whisper Was I left to perish of starvation in this subterranean world of darkness or what fate perhaps even fearful awaited me Fear thrives on our projecting into the future whatever pain or agony we are curre. The Pit and the Pendulum is a short story written by Edgar Allan Poe The story centres around the torments endured.
Ntly experiencing there is always the ever present possibility our plight will become worseHOPE AND GOOD FORTUNEThe narrator is forever hopeful and it s the narrator s hope coupled with his fear and sufferings that gives the tale its emotional depth and breath And as it turns out good fortune or what we commonly call luck follows the narrator at three critical junctures in the tale Oh Fortuna if we could all have such good fortune and luck at critical points in our own lives I call to mind flatness and dampness and then all is madness the madness of a memory which busies itself among forbidden things Edgar Allan Poe The Pit and the Pendulum WHAT DO YOU MEAN MR POE Time conuers all it is an inescapable fate for all men it cannot be defeated or avoided It s a powerful unshakable enemy and a recurring theme across many of Poe s stories I ve seen it a few times now This time it is a tormenter and a reminder of the incoming doom in the dark pit that is death This is represented by the pendulum sweeping like a minute hand getting faster and faster as it approaches the narrator it symbolises that death will be the end of all man s time it will approach all I could have clasped the red walls to my bosom as a garment of eternal peace Death I said any death but that of the pit Fool might I have not known that into the pit it was the object of the burning iron to urge me However despite the cryptic metaphors the complex imagery and fatalistic symbolism the short story isn t as simple as that There s also a political message alluding to Napoleon s rule Poe conveys time descending between two events The first is the narrator being forced to sit with entities that embody the dreamy idea of the French rule and its fanciful progress This is clearly a sarcastic suggestion towards beliefs that rarely work in action The alleviation of the torment time s arching progress the second event occurs when the narrator is saved by General Lasalles For those of ou that don t know the general was a prominent commander under the command of Napoleon Napoleon effectively ended the Revolution and the Spanish Inuisition So the story becomes a little murky here The narrator was in a hopeless situation one that appears to be his ending But he is then rescued by a brave French general So what does this suggest Perhaps the time in the pit is a suggestion of the dark time that occurred during the Revolution before Napoleon ended it It was dark hopeless and completely out of control Perhaps the narrator being saved is a possible suggestion of the hopes liberal thinkers had towards Napoleon s rule Most of the early Romantic poets supported him Wordsworth and Blake included Or perhaps it s a suggestion that darkness is symbiotic with a corrupt French rule It s hard to say I can t make a solid interpretation of it I find that the political allusions complicate the story I find myself trying to discover their meaning when I should perhaps be focusing on the elements of torture and anxiety created by the narrator s experience This is a beautifully written story Poe is the master he is the undisputable euivocal paramount evoker of the sublime the grotesue and the picturesue This story is superb but I just can t form a solid impression of it I cannot constitute what the political allusion means And it s bugging me so much Perhaps I should go and read it for a fifth time I don t think I ll get my answers though the agony of my soul found vent in one loud long and final scream of despair This is our usual Poe a wonderfully dark situation accentuated by exuisite writing I just wish I could make an interpretation of it The Pit and the Pendulum 375 stars In this 1842 short story by Edgar Allen Poe an unnamed prisoner details the ghastly and elaborate tortures he endures at the hands of the Spanish Inuisition He begins with his sentencing by black robed judges a nightmarish seuence of images that culminates in his loss of consciousness When he awakes he s in a pitch dark room free to move about but unable to see a thing And there his true tortures beginPoe despite a supreme disregard for any historical accuracy has created a compelling tale of both physical and psychological horror The oppressive atmosphere of the tomb like room the decayed fungus smell of the pit the glittering death of the razor sharp pendulum the cold lips of enormous red eyed rats seeking the lips of the prisoner YES the descriptions Poe uses are vivid engaging all of the reader s sensesEven though the story is completely fanciful from a factual point of view as an examination of the psychological effects of imprisonment and torture it s very effective The story is heavier on atmosphere than plot but it still makes for compelling readingYou can read The Pit and the Pendulum online or download it many places including here at Project GutenbergBonus an English translation of the Latin epigram at the beginning of the storyHere an unholy mob of torturers with an insatiable thirst for innocent blood once fed their long frenzy Now our homeland is safe the funereal cave destroyed and life and health appear where dreadful death once wasJust for fun here are some of the historical inaccuracies in this story spoilers ahoy There s no evidence that the Spanish inuisitors used such elaborate and unlikely means of torture as are described in this story They favored the rack water torture and the strappado hanging the victim from the ceiling by his wrists which were tied behind the back At least if Wikipedia is to be believed I claim no independent knowledge or research here Also torture was used before the trial to obtain a confession not as a method of punishment or death The prisoner is rescued by General Lasalle of Napoleon s army This means the story is set in the early 1800s centuries after the Spanish Inuisition was at its height Lasalle wasn t actually in command of the French army in Toledo Spain So he wouldn t have been around to play deus ex machina for our prisoner in that city The entire surface of this metallic enclosure was rudely daubed in all the hideous and repulsive devices to which the charnel superstition of the monks has given rise The figures of fiends in aspects of menace with skeleton forms and other really fearful images overspread and disfigured the walls Simply superb illustration by Harry Clarke Our nameless narrator has been cond. By a prisoner of the Spanish Inuisition The story is especially effective at inspiring fear in the reader due to it.
The name Poe brings to mind images of murderers and madmen premature burials and mysterious women who return from the dead His works have been in print since 1827 and include such literary classics as The Tell Tale Heart The Raven and The Fall of the House of Usher This versatile writer’s oeuvre includes short stories poetry a novel a textbook a book of scientific theory and hundreds of