The Pit and The Pendulum is a short story written by Edgar Allan Poe and published, as its other great work The Fall of The House Of Usher, during his stay in Philadelphia, that lasted from 1838 until 1844.  Poe (1809-1849)  is considered the inventor of the detective fiction genre but has also written a wide range of successful poetry and short stories. His tales of mystery and the macabre made him be regarded as a central figure of Romanticism in American literature.

This horror story was also adapted into a film in 1967.

The story analyzes the path of a man, involving the reader into his psychological analysis.  He is forced into an inhuman imprisonment, through feelings as fear, despair and survival instinct.

The protagonist of the story is also the narrator, and tells us about how he was ruthlessly sentenced to death, standing in front of the judges, during the Spanish Inquisition in the city of Toledo.

The story begins after he passes out, and finds himself into a totally dark cell. Confused, the prisoner begins slowly to move searching for the walls of the cell. When he touches the cold wall, he manages to measure the circumference of the room.

But the floor is slippery, so he tumbles down. He then understands that at the middle of the room there is a hole.

Suddenly, he distinguishes a weak light. He sees now what the hole is: a deep pit!

Sometimes, when he is asleep, someone gives him a piece of bread and water, that he sees when he wakes up. Now he has the feeling that someone is spying on him, constantly, and he is terrified. The thing that scares him the most is the fact that he don’t know his fate.

The next time he wakes up, he can’t believe what he sees: he is placed on a wooden bench, and he is fastened with ropes. The only part of his body that is free is his left arm.

All of a sudden, in front of him he sees something different: a painting representing The Time, but not as it usually is represented, with a sickle in its hands. The Time is holding a huge pendulum. Observing more carefully he notices something terrible: the pendulum really moves over him, hooked up with blades! As time passes, it moves more and more to his heart. I don’t want to spoil the end of the story, in case some of you want to read the book, but I can tell you that the suspense is real.


For you that don’t like too long stories to read but yet incredible and catching plots, this is the right book for you.  Everyone can interpret this work differently, but I think the author wants to talk metaphorically of the path of life.  The man finds himself constantly with new obstacles during his life, closed in a place where he can’t hide. Time goes by and the struggle to survive continues. Maybe Poe is talking about his own inner feelings.

Have you read this book? Do you liked it?