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

Authors Avatar by mrp1996 (student)

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. Or this could suggest that he is coming to accept the fact that this place is going to be his tomb as there is no escape in sight.

The narrator describes how he dares ‘not to employ my vision’. This shows us that he is afraid to open his eyes as he is afraid that he will either see some terrible sights before him. Or that he will open his eyes and there will be nothing and he will be dead. When he opens his eyes he describes it as ‘the blackness of eternal night encompassed me’. This shows us that his surroundings completely and utterly black, there is nothing to be seen. This suggests horror as many people are scared of what lurks in the dark. He then goes on to say ‘Yet not for a moment did I suppose myself actually dead’, this description tells us that, while he did not actually think he was dead, he had to have felt like that.

Join now!

Poe uses real life locations that had places of torture during the Spanish inquisition as a description, ‘as well as the condemned cells at Toledo’. This use of real life locations gives an insight to how gruesome the torturing that the narrator is going through even more gruesome as they really exsisted.

The theme of light plays a large part in creating horror. The narrator first describes how he is desperate ‘in the hope of catching some faint ray of light’ this shows he is starting to get slightly crazy in the hope of seeing light. He also describes it ...

This is a preview of the whole essay