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I would like to know the theme of the Pit and the Pendulim.. also what were his writing characteristics? THANK YOU!!!!!

-- Anonymous, December 06, 2004


I would say, other than the obvious escape theme that the most moving and essential point is the reistance of the will with reason against all odds, against irrational fear, against despair. The triumph in the end is not the rescue deliverance but the victory of man over fate, the ability to choose one death over another by conquering fear. I feel the happy ending was not tacked on to merely please readers but as a defiant act of the WRITER to award his hero- even if in real life the traps and the powers are too great and the character of man too weak.

Writing characteristics? You have to abstract from the genre and standard fare to get to Poe the artist. He is poetic, restrained and focused in uniting all elements toward the effect of the story and that effect romantically powerful and extreme. His sentence style and plots often paralleled his poetry so comparing a tale to The Raven or Annabel Lee will help. First person narration where the first person is not really Poe. Use of colroful references, some erudite, some made up, but all meant to tease and have an effect even if NOT understood. the philosophy(like some Rod Ser,ling intro) are also meant to serve the mood not instruct or moralize. Poe weaves all his familiar themes and ideas into even common tales with the same depth as his poetry.

Compare to other tale tellers of the era. Poe does not use similes, breathless descriptions and flowery language. Rarely uses supernatural devices per se, rarely uses allegory(King pest) but uses an air of suggestivity, symbolism and metaphor that more deeply binds the art to the story. The meaning is often deceptive in that the tale leads one to miss what the narrator character is revealing about himself. Few to none women characters speak in that deep first person narrative. You can hardly count the comic piece about Scherezade. Will and reason counterpoints or conflicts with melancholic intuitive romance. Poe's rational synthesis may be the genius of his creation of the modern detective story.

Poe transforms conventional genre or plays it for satire(often missed). There is much doubling or dualism in Poe's writings. Double endings, two characters, the position of the actor and the victim or the lost loved one always emphasizes the emotional state of the narrator. Therefore Annabel Lee hardly exists without reference to the obsessive lover by her tomb. Art of art's sake comes first although Poe's thought and plots are very ordered and mapable.

-- Anonymous, December 07, 2004

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