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The Pit and the Pendulum by Edgar Allan Poe

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Review. I recommend the short novel called The Pit and the Pendulum by Edgar Allan Poe to be included in the journal. A ical story could enrich the contents of the journal and we all know the important role, which tradition plays in literature. There are several reasons for publishing this story: firstly, person of the author, secondly, his whole creative work, and thirdly, this particular story. Edgar Allan Poe was one of the most controversial figures in American and, in general, world literature. Even today his prose is regarded by critics as one of the most original. The turbulent imagination of the writer produced the stories that could captivate any reader even today.
The Pit and the Pendulum is one of the brightest representatives of tales of horror: all his tales and this one, in particular, are psychological studies of anxiety and terror, passion, anger, revenge and other emotions experienced by lone men who are destined for some strange fate. But whatever happens in the story the main character always remains rational.
In The Pit and the Pendulum Poe gives us the first-person narration of a very fantastic and at the same time of a very prosaic story. The writer puts the character with all his weak and strong sides in a quite strange and unreal situation: he is sentenced to death – he is in the arms of inquisition. We don’t know anything about him: what is his name, why is he under examination or if he is really guilty. But this lack of information doesn’t prevent us from understanding the whole idea and believing in its truthfulness. Poe reaches such an effect by weaving minute realistic details into the fantastic pattern of the story. We can feel every second of the prisoner’s sufferings: his desire to live, and later – his fear paralyzing all the feelings and instincts, his uncertainty and decisiveness. He is afraid of the pit, knowing about its terrifying tortures, his instinct of self-preservation forces him to use his reason in order to escape it – he measures the room very cautiously, his fright of the pendulum makes him use the enemies – rats – and they gnaw his bandage. He loses the sense of time and when he understands that his every motion has been watched by heartless inquisitors, he begins to realize that all the efforts have been meaningless, that he is to accept his death and stop resisting. When he is practically in the pit, and that means, on his way to death, he is rescued by the French general. We don’t know anything about his future: the whole story is finished as much unexpectedly as it starts. We don’t get any answers to the questions emerged at the beginning but the tale doesn’t leave the impression of something being unsaid: what is not reflected in words is depicted in its gloomy atmosphere, which seems to suggest that there is no way out. but the author wants us to believe in ourselves and appreciate the power of our intellect and will. Poe is a master of detail and when you read a story you believe every word, every dash and exclamation mark, which show the emotional state of the main character: In the deepest slumber – no! In delirium – no! In a swoon – no! In death – no!1. He is in panic, he is agonizing with pain of terror.
He thinks that everything is over and closing walls of the chamber will bring him into the pit to the tortures of inquisition: I struggled no more, but the agony of my soul found vent in one loud, long, and final scream of despair. I felt that I tottered upon the brink – I averted my eyes -2.
That is why this story is rather optimistic, it could be a great start for a reader, who doesn’t know much about such a literature. It could evoke his or her interest in deep literary study of a human nature, in problems of psychology and feelings. At the same time it could please an experienced reader and make him savour all the delicious peculiarities of Poe’s language and style.
References
Poe, E.A. (1842). The Pit And The Pendulum, from http://www.literature.org/authors/poe-edgar-allan/pit-and-pendulum.html