Symbolism's of Hell in "The Pit and the Pendulum" Essay

835 Words Mar 5th, 2013 4 Pages
Symbolism's of Hell in “The Pit and the Pendulum”

In the short story, Poe uses the pit to symbolize hell. In the beginning, the soldier describes going into the pit as “a mad rushing descent as of the soul into Hades” (Poe 268). The descent reminds the reader of hell in that it is beneath the surface of the ground. Also, when the soldier describes the mad rushing, it can represent hell because nothing in hell is supposed to be orderly or calm. In the Bible, hell is described as a chaotic and tortuous place. “Hades” is an allusion to Greek mythology and describes the underworld. Through the description of the pit from the soldier, the pit is considered hell because it is a chaotic and underground place. The soldier also says,
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The soldier also says that the pendulum “swung through the air” (Poe 274). The movement of the pendulum is similar to a clock, which goes along with the theme that the pendulum symbolizes time. Depending on how low the pendulum is, the life of the soldier is slowly getting closer to ending. The pendulum provides imminent death just like hell provides imminent and lasting torture. Watching the pendulum as it descends closer to him tortures the soldier mentally as if he is in hell. When the soldier uses the rats to save himself from the pendulum, it reminds the reader of hell because rodents are imagined to be in hell. The pendulum is symbolic of a clock and life ending, making it a key element in the idea of the story being read as a descent into hell. The final symbol that allows the short story, “The Pit and the Pendulum”, to be read as a descent into hell is General Lasalle. As the soldier is about to fall into the pit after many tribulations and struggles to stay alive, he is saved. The soldier says, “An outstretched arm caught my own as I fell fainting into the abyss” while describing his saving (Poe 280). This is symbolic of salvation because the soldier was saved moments before he would have fallen to his death. A man named General Lasalle saved the soldier from dying and can represent Jesus. This is symbolic of salvation because just like the General saved the soldier, Jesus will save us in the end.