Poe masters the art of quickly drawing the reader right into his tale in The Pit and the Pendulum. How could anyone not be mesmerized with the following opening…
I was sick–sick unto death with that long agony; and when they at length unbound me, and I was permitted to sit, I felt that my senses were leaving me. The sentence–the dread sentence of death–was the last distinct accentuation which reached my ears.
A doomed man finds himself in a seemingly inescapable torture chamber. Hints of an inquisition dealing out unwarranted death sentences seem to have delivered this man to his final days.
The narrator is the sole character and seems to come to consciousness slowly allowing the reader to become aware of his arrival and current plight. Finding himself in darkness, he attempts to determine where he is and what fate awaits him. As he encounters horror after horror, he turns extremely resourceful and deals with each obstacle quite bravely.
General LaSalle arrives quite near the end…
He who has never swooned is not he who finds strange palaces and wildly familiar faces in coals that flow; is not he who beholds floating in mid-air the sad visions that the many may not view; is not he who ponders over the perfume of some novel flower; is not he whose brain grows bewildered with the meaning of some musical cadence which has never before arrested his attention.
It would be difficult to contain my adoration of Mr. Poe, but I’d try my best. Once again, I would choose to meet in an open forum as my paranoid mind would anticipate potential horrors my companion might have in store for such an unsuspecting soul as I.
My rating for The Pit and the Pendulum is a 10 out of 10.
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Next up, Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye…