Analysis Pages

Alliteration in The Pit and the Pendulum

Alliteration Examples in The Pit and the Pendulum:

The Pit and the Pendulum

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"Forth from the well they hurried in fresh troops. ..."   (The Pit and the Pendulum)

Poe’s diction and use of the alliterative f sound create rhythm, which in turn mimics the sounds of the rats. Poe’s use of “fresh troops” of rats also suggests that the narrator has been overtaken by an organized military infantry.

"In their voracity the vermin frequently fastened their sharp fangs in my fingers...."   (The Pit and the Pendulum)

The noun “voracity” refers to the state of being ravenous. This word, alongside the repeated alliteration of the v and f sounds in this phrase, contribute to the persistent and indefatigable nature of the rats as they lunge at the narrator’s bindings and tear them apart.

"sufficient to sunder..."   (The Pit and the Pendulum)

Following the auditory imagery of “hissing,” Poe employs repetitive alliteration of the s consonant to mimic the sound of the pendulum as it draws closer to the narrator. The verb “to sunder” means to separate violently and intimates the potential trajectory of the pendulum. The narrator foresees the pendulum’s splitting the dungeon in two and violently cleaving his robe.

"of the sentence..."   (The Pit and the Pendulum)

The word “swoon” means to lose consciousness. Through alliteration of the s sound in this sentence, the narrator creates rhythmic language that bookends his final descent into the pit and his loss of all consciousness. Notice throughout the story how Poe will create rhythms by repeating words that begin with the same sound to create emphasis and finality.

"Then silence, and stillness, and night were the universe...."   (The Pit and the Pendulum)

Throughout these lines, Poe employs alliteration and consonance of the s sound in words like “sank,” “supervened, “sensations,” swallowed,” “rushing descent,” “soul,” “silence,” and “stillness.” This continuous barrage of s sounds suggests the rapidity of darkness as it descends and engulfs and swarms the narrator’s surroundings.

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