Commentary on Poe Essay

Submitted By Jimmyv100
Words: 834
Pages: 4

Commentary on Poe’s The Pit and the Pendulum
One of the main themes in this passage is the idea of hell, where Poe puts across how horrifying the experience is through comparing it to this religious imagery. In the passage, there are repeated uses of words relating to the colour red, such as ‘blood’, ‘crimson’ and ‘fiery’. Not only does this use of vocabulary have connotations of anger and violence, creating a sense of the man being threatened, but this also has links to the idea of hell as commonly described in literature, a red and fiery place deep underground. The fact that this is so similar to what is happening in the story, a red fiery pit underground, shows how Poe wants us to think of the pit as a place of nightmares, a ‘hell’. In addition to this, throughout this passage there are also many words relating to the imagery of fire, such as ‘illuminated’, ‘enkindled’ and ‘glare’, creating an even stronger image of the pit being some sort of metaphorical ‘hell’. In addition to this he writes ‘the idea of the coolness of the well came over my soul like a balm’. This one sentence contrast with the imagery in the rest of the passage gives an overwhelming sense of how tempted the man is to enter the pit and kill himself, saying the idea of it came over him like a ‘balm’. Given how he was reacting to the pit earlier in the story, with terror, the fact that he wants to enter it now gives a sense of just how much he is being tortured. Words such as ‘coolness’ and ‘balm’ almost make the pit seem like the better of the two options. Overall, this lexical field of hell and fire creates a strong insight into how the man in the pit is feeling, as well as the contrast within the passage itself.
For the duration of the passage, there is also the idea of psychological torture, and that the man inside the pit may be starting to go insane. As was said in the previous paragraph, there seems to be a lot of imagery linking the pit to hell, though the use of diction. Since this story is thought to may have been set during the Spanish Inquisition, there is a possibility that the man in the pit is someone labelled a heretic. This could mean that the imagery used to describe the pit may actually be the beginnings of him starting to go insane, that he thinks he has gone down into hell. This is supported by his use of words such as ‘demoniac’ men, ‘soul’ and ‘spirit’. All these words link to the religious idea of demons and your soul that goes into the afterlife. In addition to this, phrases such as ‘heated iron’ are used. Since the things he is seeing seem to be part of his mind, the fact he smells ‘heated iron’ may be a representation of the pain he is feeling in his head, as ‘heated iron’ is associated with branding and other forms of torture in the past. There is also the slow nature of the build-up of heat. Throughout the passage the descriptions go from a ‘glow’ at the beginning through to ‘glare’ and ‘illuminated’ nearer the end. This build up