“The Pit and the Pendulum” Edgar A. Poe
General Info • Written in 1842 • Author: Edgar Allan Poe • The time span of 1842-1843 was a time when Poe wrote many of his most known works.( “The Pit and the Pendulum” 1842, “The Tell-Tale Heart”- Jan. 1843, “The Masque of Red Death”- April 1842, “The Black Cat”- 1843)
Setting • Setting: Toledo, Spain- Dungeon- During the Spanish inquisition • Allusion- a reference to a famous historical or literary figure or event. Its purpose is to explain and enhance the subject of the text. • This story alludes the Spanish Inquisition. • *Note: The Spanish Inquisition began in 1487 under the rule of KingFerdinand and Queen Isabella as well as Pope Sextius IV. The Spanish Inquisition tried to eliminate all non-Catholic, especially Jews and Muslims. It ended centuries later in 1834.
Point of View • Point of View:: • ~ 1st person POV: is told by a character who refers to himself or herself as “I” • ~ Purposes- • 1.We share immediately in the narrator’s experience and feelings. • 2.We know what only the narrator knows • 3.The reader experiences what the narrator experiences. • 4. Creates a sense of intimacy. • 5. It limits the reader’s knowledge.
The narrator: our protagonist/main character • Nameless • Antagonist- • ~ his insanity • ~ his tormentors • ~ time, etc. • *Note- Poe rarely has a story with a happy ending. In Poe’s mind, the narrator, even after being rescued, can continue with a new, more frightening type of torture…life.
Theme: central idea • Untimely Death • Isolation • Torture • Will to live vs. desire to die- Survival • Fear • Loss of time • Persecution
Genre: category into which a story falls • Fiction- the events of the story did not happen • ~ Horror Fiction • ~ Gothic Novel: supernatural horrors and atmosphere of unknown terror; extreme emotions (anger,surprise, fear, etc.) • Note: Poe is given credit for introducing the modern detective story
Style: the way a writer uses language and literary elements • Use of Latin and French ( can be confusing to modern readers) • Minimum use of characterization, plot and atmosphere • Interest in the events that happen to people rather than the individual • Uses a repeated male character- some say this male character may be various parts of him • Famous for his use of suspense
Symbol • Pit= hell • Pendulum= slow, approaching death; time ticking down • Father Time= Zeus’ father, Cronus; controller of time • Darkness= The unknown; ignorance • Rats= A potential problem turned positive • Unseen tormentors= personal “demons”
With a partner. . . • What do you think really happens to the narrator at the end of the story? • Which aspect of the narrator’s torture— physical or psychological—do you find more horrible? Why?