Comparison Of The Pit and the Pendulum And The Raven
Is it possible for a tale of a black bird and a tale of a death sentence to be at all similar? One can clearly find the answer to this question in Edgar Allen Poes The Pit and the Pendulum and The Raven. In both stories the narrator goes through mental tortures that effect him greatly. Also each story creates dark, gothic images in an appropriate creepy setting that effect the narrator as well as the reader. These three characteristics that the two stories share are the use of psychological horror, gothic elements, and creepy setting.
The first characteristic that these two stories share is the use of psychological horror. An author will use psychological horror to show the reader what a character is going through. It can be defined as the torture or horrors of ones mind by someone or something. In The Pit and the Pendulum, Poe uses it a couple of times in the part where the man is on the wood table with the pendulum above. He is given a dish of seasoned meat without water, which he usually receives. Not having the pitcher of water is a big problem because the seasoned meat is spicy. This tortures the man because he is very hungry and if he were to eat the meat then he would become very thirsty. He basically has to decide if he wants to be hungry or thirsty. Another example of psychological horror in The Pit and the Pendulum is when the man notices the slowly descending pendulum above him. The pendulum falls so slow that it ends up torturing him into wishing he would be killed sooner. In The Raven, Poe uses psychological horror one main time. This is when the character starts to get angry at the raven. At first he just laughs at the bird but eventually he grows mad at the bird. His feeling toward it changed mainly because it wouldnt say anything besides Nevermore. These few examples show how psychological horror is a shared element in these two stories.
The second shared characteristic in these two stories is the use of Gothic elements. Gothic elements can either jump out at the reader or they can be hidden within a sentence. Most of the time these elements appear in the form of darkness, ghosts, torture or basic fears. In both The Raven and The Pit and Pendulum, Poe uses Gothic elements. In The Raven, Poe begins the poem with Once upon a midnight dreary, which definitely paints the picture of the story taking place in the middle of the night. This immediately gets the reader in a scared state. In The Pit and the Pendulum, Poe begins the story with I was sick-sick unto death. Once again, the reader knows immediately that this story will tell of some form of torment for the main character. Another example of Gothic elements in The Raven is when Poe writes
Prophet! said I, thing of evil–prophet still, if bird or devil! By referring to the bird as evil and a prophet, Poe is giving the bird supernatural powers. Supernatural powers, especially evil ones, are good characteristics of Gothic writing. The character being in a locked room or small space with no means of escape is repeated throughout The Pit and the Pendulum. Claustrophobia is a common Gothic characteristic in writing and can show many emotions including, fear, torture, starvation, and the feeling of entrapment.
The third characteristic is creepy setting. In both stories Poe sets surroundings in clear and distinct ways. The setting changes often in The Pit and the Pendulum from the time the sentence is given in the courtroom scene to the dark dungeon. The main character describes the dungeon with moist and slippery stone floors. While exploring the dungeon, he comes dangerously close to falling into the circular pit in the middle of the dungeon. The creepy setting in The Raven is the office in which the man is napping. The purple drapes on the windows and the bust of Pallas on top of the chamber door both appear in the study. Each setting in the stories creates a creepy mood for the readers.
The examples given above show that Edgar Allen Poes writings are very similar. Poe writes in such a unique way creating a frightening and gloomy mood for the readers. The three characteristics of psychological horror, gothic ideas, and creepy setting are three of many literary elements that Poe tends to use in his stories. By seeing these common elements in Poes stories, it is easy to understand how a tale of a black bird and a tale of a death sentence can be similar.
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