3+ of 5 stars to The Pit and the Pendulum, a short story written in 1842, by Edgar Allan Poe. As in the tradition of Poe’s other Gothic and gory tales, this one takes the fear of death to new heights. Poe tells the story of a man facing punishment during the Spanish Inquisition, a death like no other. At first, he’s strapped to a wooden table while a pendulum swings from above with a saw, getting lower and lower until it’s nearly about to start ripping into his flesh. But the victim finds a way out… in a somewhat ingenious manner. But when he’s saved, he falls into the pit as the walls begin to close in on him. Once again, before he perishes, he is saved when the Inquisition is over.
On the outskirts, it’s just a Gothic tale of a man afraid to die. Two horrific options nearly take his life, all the way messing with this mental state. Neither are a quick and painless death. Both will shock his body and render his mind afraid of life… in a permanent state… just as he enters the after-life. Poe’s saying a lot more here than what you read upon an initial viewing of this story. As expected, the story takes you on the ride of your life. It’s a careful executed imagination that can find the right words and the perfect background to constantly jiggle the paranoia we all feel at some point in our lives.
Certainly not the best of his short stories, it is a good one… something all beginning thriller fans should read.
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