This is a psychological thriller told in the first person. The narrator has been condemned to death by the Inquisition in Toledo. When his sentence is passed, he blacks out and awakes in a dark room with a slimy floor. We then experience with him the different tortures that he is subjected to. The "pit" and the "pendulum" are but two of these.
I love the darkness and the pacing of this story. It has the same escalation style as a few of Poe's other works. This is a paragraph from the middle of the tale --
What boots it to tell of the long, long hours of horror more than mortal, during which I counted the rushing vibrations of the steel! Inch by inch -- line by line -- with a descent only appreciable at intervals that seemed ages -- down and still down it came! Days passed -- it might have been that many days passed -- ere it swept so closely over me as to fan me with its acrid breath. The odor of the sharp steel forced itself into my nostrils. I prayed -- I wearied heaven with my prayer for its more speedy descent. I grew frantically mad, and struggled to force myself upward against the sweep of the fearful scimitar. And then I fell suddenly calm, and lay smiling at the glittering death, as a child at some rare bauble.
It would be impossible not to form a vivid picture of this horrific scene in your mind. Poe is fantastic at relaying both emotion and the physical environment in this tale. I love it!
As I'm sure you have been expecting, I couldn't pass up the chance for a Halloween Eve reading of the quintessential Poe, The Raven. I hope that you will all join me in revisiting this classic poem!
Fearing another Inquisition,