Pit and the Pendulum Edgar Allen Poe

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Edgar Allen Poe’s short story, “The Pit and the Pendulum” is told from a first person point of view. The narrator, who has been imprisoned and sentenced to death, remains nameless and discovers that he is being held in a small enclosed prison cell where “the blackness of darkness supervened...”. The perspective of the narrator helps to develop a sense of terror in the reader because it forces the narrator to blindly fill his confinement with his greatest fears, thrusting the reader into the narrator’s worst nightmare. The ambiguity of the narrator’s surroundings lead him to believe that he was “left to perish of starvation in this subterranean world of darkness...” and fear that perhaps there was a worse fate behind the blanket of blackness. Prolonged exposure to the nebulous setting enforce a sense of terror that causes the narrator to conclude that “It was not that i feared to look upon things horrible, but that I grew aghast lest there should be nothing to see.” The narrator’s fear of the emptiness before him establishes a sense of horror that most readers can relate to, the fear of loneliness. As the story progresses, the narrator becomes more aware of his surroundings, discovering “ Demon eyes, of wild and ghastly vivacity... where none had been visible before, and gleamed with the lurid lustre of a fire that I could not force my imagination to regard as unreal.” Upon evaluating his chamber, the narrator comes across figures that could be creations of imagination. However, contrary to the terrors previously tormenting the narrator, these figures were concrete, staring him in the eye. This emphasizes that the horrors which haunt the narrator are very much real. Overall the narrator’s point of view throughout the story contributes to the overall feeling of terror established in the reader.
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