A Month of Poe – The Pit and the Pendulum

So, my first week of reading Edgar Allan Poe is over and I have finished reading The Pit and the Pendulum. Here are my thoughts on it…

Poe is very good at relating the feeling of claustrophobia; it was very easy to put myself in that pit and feel the walls closing in on me, but I found his style rather verbose. I don’t know if it’s because I read the story in installments, but it felt like the story could have been told just as effectively in half the words. By the end, I was tiring of the tale a little, but it seemed to end very abruptly, which annoyed me somewhat.

I found some elements very chilling (the thought of getting the rats to do their work was rather nasty, despite the fact that I rather like rodents), but by modern standards, I found it a tad tame.

Overall, though, I enjoyed my first foray into Poe’s work and am looking forward to starting the second on my list – Ligeia.

If you’ve read along with me, I’d love to hear what you thought of The Pit and the Pendulum, so please leave a comment!


9 responses to “A Month of Poe – The Pit and the Pendulum

  1. Pingback: W… W… W… Wednesdays | Diary of a Domestic Goddess

  2. Sorry, I didn’t realize there was a different page for this and left a comment on the “invitation” – feel free to move it here if you wish!

  3. Question from Ellinas:

    Well, lets kick off with a question:
    At what point, if at all, did the narrator’s experience become actual rather than the consequence of his period of unconsciousness? We’re told that he’s recovered memories from that time, but it is not clear to me that the horrors he describes are the malice of monks rather than his own fears; perhaps he doesn’t wake up until Lasalle’s act of rescue?

    • Thanks for leaving a question. 🙂

      think you may be right – it’s not made clear at all.

      Perhaps it’s all been an illusion brought on by persnal phobias or even drugs. Or perhaps he’s dreamed it all…

  4. Potentially this raises a number of further questions:
    Whether that which is out there in the world is ever as fearful as that which is within us?
    Whether the worst of which people do is nothing worse than that to which we can each of us sink in our own psyches? And whether there is actually a form of group responsibility for individual wrongdoing as a result? (Shades of some of the ideas of Kahlil Gibran there – though Poe predated him.)
    Whether it is indicating that, to be free of our fears, we have to face the horrors that are within us, and which are merely the reflection of what we are ourselves capable? Perhaps Lasalle represents the liberty that comes of confronting one’s own “demons”.
    Strikes me that this story raises some quite involved moral issues…

    • Wow! You obviously read a lot more deeply into it than I did! I’m afraid I couldn’t really get into it, but I’m not sure if that was because I was reading in small installments, or if I just didn’t like the style.

      Given that I’m just about to read the last installment of Ligeia this morning and am feeling rather ambivalent about that one as well, I think it’s a ocmbination of the two…

  5. I think Poe is a touch “old fashioned” for modern tastes. I came across him many years ago and have read most of his short stories already (though for some reaon, I don’t recall reading Ligeia before). It’s the sort of style that benefits from a second reading.
    Perhaps I’m just old fashioned!

    • I don’t think it’s that it’s “old fashioned” per se – I love classics such as Dracula and Frankenstein and love the styles in which they are written. There’s just something that’s keeping me from getting into Poe and I can’t quite put my finger on what it is…

  6. Pingback: A Month of Poe – Ligeia | Diary of a Domestic Goddess