Symbolism's of Hell in “The Pit and the Pendulum”
In the short story, Poe uses the pit to symbolize hell. In the beginning, the soldier describes going into the pit as “a mad rushing descent as of the soul into Hades” (Poe 268). The descent reminds the reader of hell in that it is beneath the surface of the ground. Also, when the soldier describes the mad rushing, it can represent hell because nothing in hell is supposed to be orderly or calm. In the Bible, hell is described as a chaotic and tortuous place. “Hades” is an allusion to Greek mythology and describes the underworld. Through the description of the pit from the soldier, the pit is considered hell because it is a chaotic and underground place. The soldier also says, “faces in coal that glow”, after he is brought down into the pit (Poe 268). This could also allude to hell because fire is an element commonly related to hell. Another element of hell that is used in the pit is the demon drawings on the walls. They are used to scare the prisoners that are being tortured. Demonic figures are a symbol of hell and because they are used in the short story, they add to the pit being a symbol of hell. In the pit, there is a hole near the middle that is a deep abyss. This abyss provides terror when the soldier realizes he has almost fallen into it, just as hell provides lasting terror. This abyss reminds the reader of hell because it seems like hell is a bottomless pit of lasting eternity. Through the elements described in the pit, Poe uses it as a symbol to guide the reader to view the story as a decent into hell.
Another symbol used in “The Pit and the Pendulum”, that contributes to the story being read as a descent into hell, is the pendulum. After seeing the pendulum, the narrator notes that it is “perceptively descended” as he realizes that the pendulum is slowly falling closer to him (Poe 274). This pendulum has a sharp bottom that will cut the soldier in half when it reaches him. As...
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