Thursday, January 23, 2020
The Pit and the Pendulum :: Pit and the Pendulum Essays
The Pit and the Pendulum "The place where you die is where you become young again." The accused in "The Pit and the Pendulum" is obviously being persecuted. For what religion or practice we do not know. For what crime it is not said. The prisoner does not even question his guilt or innocence. The accused in this story, to whom Poe does not give a name, is subjected to three life threatening situations. Poe, along with other English Romantics believed that being born was actually coming to the end of another existence. With this in consideration could the tomb in which the prisoner was confined be thought of as a womb? Could then the pit be considered a tunnel that leads to a New World? Poe utilizes one of the most common and universal phobias in "The Pit and the Pendulum," which is the darkness. Imagine you are condemned to death and wake to find that you cannot see your hand two inches from your face. Darkness commonly evokes feelings of anxiety, but under these circumstances I would think absolute terror. The tomb is dark, and only by an accident does the accused escape the pit and certain death. The victim searched for a rock in order to estimate the depths, which he just avoided. As the masonry hit the water far below, a light burst into his vault and a door swiftly shut. The slamming door was his first awareness that he was being monitored constantly; his torturers were adjusting his torments to his abilities at avoiding disaster. The prisoner wakes only to realize that he is strapped onto a board and bound by a "surcingle". The word he uses is significant; it can apply to the binding of saddle on a horse, or to the binding of a priest's cassock. He perceived himself as bound like an animal by the belt of a priest, symbolically bound to the demented will of his prison-masters. Far above his bound body, on the ceiling of the chamber, was the figure of Time holding what appeared to be a scythe. Upon closer examination what appeared to be a scythe was a giant, razor sharp pendulum making a slow and deadly descent. One could interpret the figure of Time as the character's realization that his time is running out. I think Poe's introduction of the figure of Time suggests to all of us that we have only the time that is given us.