Edgar Allan Poe holds a heralded place in the hearts of literature lovers thanks to his macabre and eerie oeuvre. Poe’s tragic life likely inspired much of his work, as the author gave the world poems about ghostly lovers and stories where guilt manifests as a thudding heart beneath the floorboards.
Most people know about Poe’s epic verse “The Raven” and its focus on the insanity-inducing repetition of the phrase “Nevermore.” However, few remember the times his prose leaned more towards the viscerally terrifying, as in “The Tell-Tale Heart” and “Hop-Frog”. Throughout his famous and lesser-known works alike, Poe’s descriptions remain as chilling to modern audiences as they were to readers in the 1800s.
In “The Premature Burial,” a narrator preoccupied with being buried alive relays several tales about the phenomena. In the story of a Congressman’s wife, the poor lady supposedly awakens in her final resting place.
“The Tell-Tale Heart” follows a narrator so consumed with causing the demise of his elderly roommate that he stalks the old man nightly. The old man’s blind eye disturbs the mad narrator so much, he’s eventually driven to end the man’s life. After the completion of the deed, the narrator allows himself to be found out by imagining the thudding heartbeat of his fallen companion while officers sit in their presence.
'The Pit And The Pendulum' - The Narrator Describes The Instrument Of His Doom
After the narrator trips and skirts the edge of a yawning abyss in “The Pit and the Pendulum,” he awakens strapped in place. Moments later, a sharp, steel blade sweeping about him like the pendulum of a clock comes into view. Unable to move, the narrator fearfully assesses his likely demise before he enacts a plan to harness the room’s rats so he can escape.
The narrator is a captive of the Spanish Inquisition, forced to exist within the confines of a darkened prison riddled with hidden traps in “The Pit and the Pendulum.” After he avoids a deep pit in the darkness, the narrator awakes to find himself with a light source that allows him to take stock of the horrors around him.