John Allan, a prosperous tobacco exporter, sent Poe to the best boarding schools and later to the University of Virginia, where Poe excelled academically. Poe returned briefly to Richmond, but his relationship with Allan deteriorated. Inhe moved to Boston and enlisted in the United States Army. His first collection of poems, Tamerlane, and Other Poems, was published that year.
Plot summary[ edit ] The unnamed narrator is brought to trial before sinister judges of the Spanish Inquisition. Poe provides no explanation of why he is there or of the charges on which he is being tried. Before him are seven tall white candles on a table, and, as they burn down, his hopes of survival also diminish.
He is condemned to death, whereupon he faints and later awakens to find himself in a totally dark room. At first the prisoner thinks that he is locked in a tomb, but then he discovers that he is in a cell. He decides to explore the cell by placing a scrap of his robe against the wall so that he can count the paces around the room, but he faints before he can measure the whole perimeter.
When he reawakens, he discovers food and water nearby. He tries to measure the cell again, and finds that the perimeter measures one hundred steps. While crossing the room, he trips on the hem of his robe and falls, his chin landing at the edge of a deep pit.
He realizes that had he not tripped, he would have fallen into this pit. After losing consciousness again, the narrator discovers that the prison is slightly illuminated and that he is strapped to a wooden frame on his back, facing the ceiling.
Above him is a picture of Father Timewith a razor-sharp pendulum measuring "one foot from horn to horn" suspended from it. The pendulum is swinging back and forth and slowly descending, designed to kill the narrator eventually.
However, he is able to attract rats to him by smearing his bonds with the meat left for him to eat. The rats chew through the straps, and he slips free just before the pendulum can begin to slice into his chest.
The pendulum is withdrawn into the ceiling, and the walls become red-hot and start to move inwards, forcing him slowly toward the center of the room and the pit. As he loses his last foothold and begins to topple in, he hears a roar of voices and trumpets, the walls retract, and an arm pulls him to safety.
The French Army has captured the city of Toledo and the Inquisition has fallen into its enemies' hands. Lack of historical authenticity[ edit ] Poe makes no attempt to describe accurately the operations of the Spanish Inquisition, and takes considerable dramatic license with the broader history premised in this story.
The rescuers are led by Napoleon's General Lasalle who was not, however, in command of the French occupation of Toledo and this places the action during the Peninsular War —14centuries after the height of the Spanish Inquisition. The elaborate tortures of this story have no historic parallels in the activity of the Spanish Inquisition in any century, let alone the nineteenth when under Charles III and Charles IV only four persons were condemned.
The Inquisition was, however, abolished during the period of French intervention — The original source of the pendulum torture method is one paragraph in the preface of the book The history of the Inquisition of Spain by the Spanish priest, historian, and activist, Juan Antonio Llorente. Most modern sources dismiss this as fantasy.
Poe places a Latin epigraph before the story, describing it as "a quatrain composed for the gates of a market to be erected upon the site of the Jacobin Club House at Paris ".
The epigraph was not Poe's invention; such an inscription had been reported, no later thanas having been composed with the intention possibly facetious of having it placed on the site,  and it had appeared, without attribution, as an item of trivia in the Southern Literary Messengera periodical to which Poe contributed.
Charles Baudelairea French poet who translated Poe's works into French and who viewed Poe as an inspiration, said that the building on the site of the Old Jacobin Club had no gates and, therefore, no inscription. Poe emphasizes this element of sound with such words as "surcingle," "cessation," "crescent," and "scimitar", and various forms of literary consonance.
Inspiration[ edit ] Poe was following an established model of terror writing of his day, often seen in Blackwood's Magazine a formula he mocks in " A Predicament ".
Those stories, however, often focused on chance occurrences or personal vengeance as a source of terror. Poe may have been inspired to focus on the purposeful impersonal torture in part by Juan Antonio Llorente 's History of the Spanish Inquisition, first published in Poe was familiar with Sale, and even mentioned him by name in a note in his story "The Thousand-and-Second Tale of Scheherazade".
Sale's translation was a part of commentary and, in one of those notes, refers to an allegedly common form of torture and execution by "throwing [people] into a glowing pit of fire, whence he had the opprobrious appellation of the Lord of the Pit.
It was slightly revised for a republication in the May 17, issue of the Broadway Journal. Analyse the Pit and the Pendulum and you find an appeal to the nerves by tawdry physical affrightments.TRUE!
- nervous - very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad? The disease had sharpened my senses - not destroyed - not dulled them. Significant collections of Edgar Allan Poe's papers are located at the University of Texas (M.
L. Stark Library and Humanities Research Center Floyd Stovall, Edgar Poe the Poet: Essays Old and New on the Man and His Work (Charlottesville: University Press of . "The Pit and the Pendulum" is a short story written by Edgar Allan Poe and first published in in the literary annual The Gift: A Christmas and New Year's Present for Major and Minor Themes.
Major and minor themes are two types of themes that appear in literary works.
A major theme is an idea that a writer repeats in his literary . Edgar Allan Poe (/ p oʊ /; born Edgar Poe; January 19, – October 7, ) was an American writer, editor, and literary critic. Poe is best known for his poetry and short stories, particularly his tales of mystery and the tranceformingnlp.com: Virginia Eliza Clemm Poe (m.
; d. ). 1. Features Hugo, Edgar, Tiptree, Nebula and British Fantasy Award winners 2. To commemorate the second centenary of Poe's birth - January 19, and the th anniversary of his death in Oct