Q:

What is the symbolism of "The Pit and the Pendulum"?

A:

Quick Answer

In "Pit and the Pendulum," the pit symbolizes the unknown horrors that the Spanish Inquisition created. The pendulum symbolizes the inexorable march of time and the imminence of death, the second of which is a common theme throughout many of the works of Edgar Allan Poe.

Know More

Full Answer

The narrator of the story is a prisoner of the Spanish Inquisition, and he has been placed in one of the creative torture chambers that this horrific institution devised. The rumors about the methods the Inquisition uses are just as frightening to the narrator as the methods themselves. The darkness in the room keeps the narrator from knowing what the room is, or whether the pit (after he almost falls into it) even has a bottom. This room appears to lack order or structure of any kind, which may be the most frightening torture of all.

The pendulum swings back and forth, bearing down on the narrator's heart. Each swing brings it closer to the narrator, and the rhythm of the pendulum takes on the beats taking place in the heart of the narrator; the effect of this torture device is that he thinks of a point when time will cease for him. Both the pit and the pendulum serve to build suspense in the story until the narrator's climactic rescue.

Learn more about Classics
Sources:

Related Questions

  • Q:

    What is the symbolism in "To Build a Fire" by Jack London?

    A:

    "To Build a Fire" by Jack London is a short story about man versus nature, and for its protagonist, fire represents survival. Because of the extreme cold, the man struggles to light a fire, and the condition of his frozen hands symbolizes the difference between life and death.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What effect does symbolism have?

    A:

    Symbolism has many effects, such as allowing writers to add multiple layers of meaning to their work, making characters and themes more universal, and engaging readers' interest. Symbolism is the literary practice of using objects, people or situations to represent ideas that are greater than the objects' literal meanings.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What is a grasshopper's symbolism?

    A:

    In Western culture, the carefree grasshopper may symbolize laziness and frivolity, reflecting the portrayal of the insect in Aesop's fable, "The Grasshopper and the Ant." The grasshopper also symbolizes taking a leap of faith and listening to one's inner voice. To many, the grasshopper represents good luck.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    How long do pit bulls stay pregnant?

    A:

    The length of time that a pit bull stays pregnant is a total of 9 weeks (63 days). The same is true of all dog breeds.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:

Explore