The Pit And The Pendulum Symbolism

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Everyone has their demons. The Dark Romantic Movement brought that evil into literature in an enticing and spine-chilling way. “The Pit and the Pendulum”, by Edgar Allan Poe, is emblematic of this movement. Poe’s expert use of literary elements and techniques creates a feeling of terror and fear. Three of the strongest elements present are the use of first person narration, imagery, and symbolism. First person is a powerful choice of narration for this piece. Direct insight into the narrator’s thought helps to establish an understanding of the narrator’s mental state for the reader. Following his stream of consciousness as he rambles that he is in “the deepest slumber--no! In delirium--no! In a swoon--no! In death…” (2) shows his state of…show more content…
The use of light to represent hope and darkness to symbolize dismay adds to the menacing nature of the plot. This symbol is first introduced in the beginning of the piece. The “black-robed judges” decide the narrator’s fate, which he sees no escape from. His outlook shifts when he sees white candles and in them he sees “the aspect of charity, and… white and slender angels who would save [him]” (1). He is filled with a sense of hope that had been lost when looking at the dark robes of his torturers. This glimmer of the hope allows the reader to consider the possibility that the narrator is not doomed. Suspense is created as the reader anticipates the fate of the narrator. What the narrator dominantly fears throughout is the concept of what he cannot see. He recognizes that it is not “that [he] feared to look upon things horrible, but that [he] grew aghast lest there should be nothing to see” (3). Not knowing what is about to happen to him fills the narrator with a sense of helplessness. When light begins to show the narrator what he is up against, he he gains a new attitude of determined bravery. It is not that the narrator is afraid of the dark, but rather that it is human nature to fear what one cannot see or understand. Despite all of the terror that the narrator goes through, what haunts him is not being able to see the horrors in store. “The Pit and the Pendulum” is the epitome of Poe’s signature use of imagery and symbols told through the lens of the victim to create a terrifying tale. In this dark tale of horror, literary elements serve to illustrate the atrocities of the Spanish Inquisition in a way that enthrals the reader. These pieces come together and create a story that is truly
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