The Dungeon of Madness In this story, Edgar Allan Poe (such as in many of his works) uses the setting to create a dark image inside our minds. He makes this specially through darkness, therefore the character makes a connection with death. “The physical setting oppresses him in the visions of his graveyard” (1). “The setting plays an important role in how the narrator discovers the many ways he may die” (2). It is a dungeon full of torturing traps, and the character, as any normal human, feels terror inside his prison and fears his death in any of the cruel ways arranged for him. Still, he has to decide between death and the relief which it brings or life with the interminable agony of being tortured as a lab mouse.
The best terror stories create suspense through the setting. Most of the times, the character does not know completely where he is or what enemy or problem he is facing. In “The Pit and the Pendulum”, the underground prison is dark; as a result, the character compares the place with hell or even his tomb.
That is why at the beginning, during his dream-like state, he does not want to open his eyes and we do not know where he is either. The darkness makes the character struggle with the idea of trusting his senses or not. Also, he is afraid to discover more mean ways in which he may die. Poe creates a disgusting atmosphere for the setting. He starts describing the prison as a "damp and hard place." There is no light and the character is not able to see anything. It has a damp and slippery stone floor, a very greasy wall; it is about fifty yards in circuit and smells like rotten meat.
This dark, decayed, disgusting and risky place makes the character confused and makes him feel inside hell. He feels despair and does not understand the cruelness of his captors (even though he had heard some stories, being there was worse). The psychological setting of confusion, discrimination and madness makes the character turn crazy with his different and contrasting thoughts; like stillness against tumultuous sounds, insensibility against full memory or fear against peace. We do not know exactly, but the psychological setting may represent the experience of racism or discrimination and its consequences. A person can live.