edgar allen poe- his life and his writing about the pit and the pendulum

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1)where can i find critial survey's on the pit and the pendulum. 2) How does events and emotions in his life effect his writing?

-- Anonymous, October 09, 2001


His life had its ups and downs. Behind that innocuous joke however lies the crux of the story. Poe was not a firm believer in the win-win scenario. Pit OR Pendulum, the hero was doomed. But as with the Maelstrom and other stories of survival or conquest of reason over terror, Poe was NOT going to let his heroically clever, persistent victim die. So in comes the rare deus ex machina against the Inquistion machine and the man is summarily rescued. A man needs friends and Poe thankfully had his share for at least moral support, though few were any richer than himself.

In this story of rerason struggling against vast, horrific forces, unseen, malevolent it mirrors the anxieties of his own literary career and life. He made enemies; he feared reproach and poverty. He considered himself smarter than his foes and wished to overcome him with the one real resource at his disposal. Yet from early life he must have lacked complete optimism and hope since one loss after another removed himn from the stability of a happy family and financial security or even a sound literary position among his peers.

So in many stories there is not merely one danger to succumb- hooray happy ending- but often two, usually fatal climaxes.(Tell-Tale Heart- kills old man because of eye, then the imagined heartbeart causes a confession). Ms. Found in a Bottle- escapes shipwreck to find himself aboard a ghost ship rushing to destruction. Many variations and playing off of doubles.(Usher dies, narrator escapes barely). Only it seems when the defeated victim is inherently irrational or villainous does Poe leave him to fictional Fate. Sometimes this remnant moralist resolution seems unconvincing as in the Pit and the Pendulum reflecting Poe's own doubts.

I would say feverish anxiety and literary brilliance are hard at work underneath these stories. More articles may be available at www.eapoe.org and www.poedecoder.com.

-- Anonymous, October 09, 2001

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