Edgar Allan Poe has been known for writing stories of mystery and horror. He has
composed poems dealing with the occult. He favors those themes and ideas that people
shy away from, death, pain, suffering, torture, terror, and fear. His gothic stories burn
fright into the hearts of the reader or leave them with a sense of remorse for Poe's poor
and unfortunate characters. Not many people have ever thought about how Poe goes
about conveying these feelings to his readers and why it is so effective. Poe uses an
abundance of descriptive language in order to convey the feelings of his choice onto his
reader. This can be seen quite blatantly in "The Pit and the Pendulum"
"The Pit and the Pendulum" tells the story of a man victimized by the Spanish
Inquisition. He is thrown in a dungeon for the crime of treason. There is no light in the
dungeon so as to keep the narrator very confused. In the center of the dungeon he
accidentally finds a circular pit which he was undoubtedly meant to fall into. The narrator
then falls asleep and when he awakes he finds a pitcher of water lying beside him. It is
drugged and causes him to fall into a very deep sleep. When he awakes, he finds himself
in the dungeon still, but now it is lighted and he is strapped down with only his head and
left arm free so he could feed himself from a bowl of meat. Above him, a razor sharp
pendulum is swinging back and forth and lowering with each pass. To escape death, the
narrator, at the last minute, covers his wrappings in what meat is left. As the rats in the
dungeon eat the meat they also chew through the narrator's bindings, freeing him. Once
... middle of paper ...
the torture, just simply observing it.
In conclusion, it is quite obvious how Poe uses descriptive language to convey the desired
feelings unto the reader. Through an abundant use of detailed descriptions, elevated and specific
word choice, the use of a first person narrator, and his single effect, Poe can relay any type of
feeling he wants onto the reader.
Poe, Edgar Allan. "The Pit and the Pendulum" Great Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan
Poe. New York: Pocket Books, 1951. 296-312
Readings on Edgar Allan Poe. Ed. Bruno Leone. New York: Greenhaven Press, 1998.
Poe, Essays and Reviews. Ed. G.R. Thompson. New York: Literary Classics of the
United States, 1984.
Patterson, Arthur Paul. "The Pit and the Pendulum- From Death to Rebirth" .
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