Pit and the Pendulum

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Tale by Poe, published in The Gift (1843).

A prisoner of the Spanish Inquisition at Toledo describes his horrible tortures. Sick from long suffering, he faints when the death sentence is pronounced; upon recovering consciousness, he finds himself on the stone floor of a dark dungeon. Exploring the cell, he is saved from plunging into a deep pit when he accidentally trips and falls. He sleeps, and awakes to discover that he is now strapped to a wooden framework, while a great pendulum swings slowly back and forth overhead, its end being a steel crescent sharpened to a razor edge. The menacing blade gradually descends, and rats swarm about his highly seasoned food and over his body. As the pendulum reaches him, the rats gnaw his bonds, from which he frees himself to find the cells' metal walls are heated and are slowly closing in. Just as he gives way to an agony of terror, the city is captured by French soldiers, and the hand of General Lasalle stays him from tumbling into the pit.

Subjects: Literature.

Reference entries

Edgar Allan Poe (1809—1849) American short-story writer, poet, and critic

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