Pit and the Pendulum Reader Response
Poe’s story is of a person sentenced to death by torture during the Spanish Inquisition. The story is an account of the narrator’s time from sentencing and throughout his journey during incarceration. It’s a tale of hope and despair. A story of one’s mental ability while facing an eminent death. Of this the narrator says, ‘It was hope—the hope that triumphs on the rack—that whispers to the death-condemned even in the dungeons of the Inquisition.’ Unusual for Poe, this story has a sense of unity and though still a horror story, it brings the reader a feeling of joy. He writes using a narrator with unfathomable hope and paints a picture of a person of high moral character, so much so that he finds comfort even in the face of death. The thought of sweet rest in the grave gives him a sense of calm which in turn helps him keep a cool, logical point of view. This logic and lack of fear of death, in turn helps him conquer the obstacles he faces and unlike many of his stories, this one has a heroic ending. The story is told in first person narration. It begins with the narrator hearing of his sentencing to death. Though the Spanish Inquisition was run by religious leaders, this is not mentioned. Instead a physical description of the inquisitors is given of grotesquely thin, white, black-robbed men with a ‘stern contempt for human torture’. I find this description of them to be more demonic than godly. This presents the first noticeable gap. What is the Inquisition? Without background information of the time period, which is not mentioned by the narrator, or much knowledge of Poe himself, other than judges it is unclear who these grotesque figures are. It’s not until the final lines of the story that this gap is filled. Another gap is apparent in the beginning. The narrator does not seem to know why is being imprisoned. The only textual information is that he is part of a revolution and facing an Inquisition. As the hooded figures...
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