Themes, Symbols, and Motifs in The Pit and the Pendulum
The Pit and the Pendulum Themes, Symbols, and Motifs Edgar Allan Poe
The Chamber itself is an instrument of fear. It makes use of complete and disorienting darkness, then mysterious glowing, with pictures of horrifying creatures on the walls to wreak psychological havoc on the narrator. The walls themselves become the instrument of certain death for the narrator, as they push him towards the pit after he escapes from the pendulum.
The pendulum swings back and forth, much like a grandfather clock. Each moment it swings, the narrator is confronted with the terrifying reality that it’s both getting closer, and it is razor sharp. The pendulum is part of this “just” sentence being issued by the inquisitors, but in reality, it is an instrument of psychological torture. It creates the idea of a game, giving the narrator so much time to formulate an escape, or he loses.
The pit is the narrator’s first close call with death, as he almost tumbles headlong into it while stumbling around in the chamber in the dark. The pit becomes his final choice as he is pushed towards it by the enclosing chamber walls which are burning fire-hot. The narrator knows that the pit means certain death for him, and he screams in despair as he finds he has run out of options.
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