In Poe’s story the “The Pit and the Pendulum” he distinctively uses symbolism, repetition, mood and diction to tell a tale of hope over circumstance to make this story come to life for the reader. Unlike the hypersensitive characters from other stories, such as the narrator in “The Tell-Tale Heart,” this narrator claims to lose the capacity of sensation during the swoon upon receiving his death sentence that opens the story. This story is different from Poe’s other works such as this narrator remains hopeful in his emotional state; he is able to describe his surroundings while also portraying his emotional chaos. We the readers are not given specific circumstances of his arrest, nor are we given any evidence for his innocence. Although, even without those details he gives us a famous suspense story that is violent and graphic yet hopeful and ethically allusive.
The stories intentions aim at not only the physical pain of death, but the realization that a victim has no choice but to die. Whether the narrator chooses to jump into the pit or get separated by the pendulum, he faces an indistinguishable conclusion —death. This may not be the path any of us want to take in our life time, but in the end, we have no choice. This story strives to display his lack of choice while displaying hope when he does what some would call nearly impossible; he does not submit to the swooning and recruits his sensible abilities. When he awakes from his swoon, he faces complete darkness. This story has plenty of symbolism throughout the story such as the pit that represents the pit of hell or the pendulum which like a clock pendulum swinging back and forth represents time. The rats viewed normally as unwanted creatures, represent a second chance as they chew through his bindings freeing him to escape from the pendulum. General LaSalle is a symbol that resembles a Christ-like figure who overtakes the corruptness of the church and is the voice of reason. The narrator used something horrific to his advantage in this story. He uses repetition of words such as sick, death, swoon, and down in this story. He uses anaphora of sick and down at the beginning of the sentences as well as using alliteration within his sentences.
Poe used reiteration to intensify the horror and the enjoyment. Effective repetition places emphasis on a key word or idea such as when he says “… Oh! Horror!—Oh! Any horror but this!” This story’s mood is full of fearful anticipation. This man was saved from the brink of death when he thought for sure he was going to die one way or another. Though he escaped execution, he cannot escape from himself. Every paragraph is full of intense descriptions of harrowing events that will stick with him the rest of his life and he won’t be as fortunate to escape from those memories. In “The Pit and the Pendulum” Poe uses biblical imagery from revelation such as the candles, the judges, the pit, the general, the loud blast of many trumpets and the inquisition. Although, unlike the bible Poe is conveying the subject in dark imagery and horror whereas, the book of revelation is all about the judgment of man and the end days. The pit as I mentioned resembles hell and the general resembles a Christ-Like figure. The general rescued the man when he had lost all hope and was in his darkest moment. The candles resemble hope in man with Christ. The judges and the inquisition represent the church.
The judges resemble the accusers in the church and the inquisition resembles the condemners. The loud blast of many trumpets resembles the rapture in which takes those who are alive in Christ. The revelation returns in the form of a blast of trumpets and a thousand thunders. “The Pit and the Pendulum” is an astonishing depiction of the never-ending battle between victory and defeat. Some people label Poe as a horror writer; however I think he had an idiosyncratic style of conveying his emotions. I believe Poe intended “The Pit and the Pendulum” to be a small-scale representation of life and the trials and tribulations within. He uses symbolism, repetition, mood and diction to tell a tale in which is portrayed in a brilliant story.