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How Edgar Allan Poe creates horror in 'The Pit and the Pendulum'

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Introduction

How is horror created in ?The Pit and the Pendulum?? In the short story ?The Pit and the Pendulum? by Edgar Allan Poe, he uses many different techniques to create horror. Poe starts off by stating that the narrator was ?sick ? sick unto death?. The repetition of the word sick here emphasis how bad he feels, also ?sick unto death? suggests that he already feels like he is dead. Death is emphasised more with ?the dread sentence of death?. This emphasis on death is telling us that he is metaphorically already dead. Poe then describes the expressions on the black robed judge?s face as ?stern contempt of human torture?. This description suggests a grotesque look upon their face. The word torture also gives a sense of capture, which is also emphasised by ?permitted to sit? as permitted gives a feeling that someone is keeping authority over him at all time. Death is once again emphasised as he describes the darkness as a soul descending ?into Hades?. With Hades being the Greek God of the underworld it is like the narrator has been enveloped by death. Again it is emphasised by, ?How at least shall we distinguish its shadows from those of the tomb??, this description tells us that the narrator is not sure whether or not he is dead or alive. ...read more.

Middle

it also shows us that the dungeon is absolutely terrifying if the narrator decides that he would rather die than venture through it anymore. This is also shown a little later as he describes his sleep as ?a sleep like that of death?, showing that there is no escape and that even in sleep he still feels like death is upon him. One great use of description is the ?painted figure of time? that resides on the roof. This symbolism is showing us that the narrator?s time is up and he will soon die. He then goes on to describe that there is a ?scythe? with the painting of time. This adds to the fact that he will soon die as a scythe is commonly represented with the sign of death, as death is usually depicted as a skeleton, which the figures were described to have ?skeleton forms?, with a black robe, which was also seen on the judges, and a scythe. This constant symbolism of death shows us greatly that the narrator has no other choice and he will die. The narrator also describes that he saw ?enormous rats? traversing the floors. The fact that they are enormous also tells us that there were probably people in the dungeons either alongside the narrator or before him, as for them to be big they must have eaten. ...read more.

Conclusion

This adds to the readers fears and makes them uneasy while reading the rest of the story. Once again the narrator is starting to come to terms with the fact that he is going to die as even after escaping from the threat of the pendulum he says that he had ?but escaped death in one form of agony, to be delivered unto worse than death in some other.? This shows us that he has given up trying to escape as he knows that he will just be given an even worse punishment in the end. Then it is described when the thought of being crushed by the metal walls as ?fiery destruction? is in contrast to the description in the ?coolness of the well?. These descriptions used make the option of the pit seem like the worse of two evils, like the coolness of the pit will relieve him from the fiery destruction of the enclosing walls. This shows how desperate the narrator is to survive. Many of the different techniques that Poe used to create horror so that the reader feels more involved in the story. He uses real places so we feel more drawn into the story. He uses great description of the surroundings so we feel more involved and he gives us the inner monologue of the character so we can feel more involved and it keeps us wanting more. ...read more.

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