The story is about the torments endured by a prisoner of the Spanish Inquisition , though Poe skews historical facts. The narrator of the story describes his experience of being tortured. The story is especially effective at inspiring fear in the reader because of its heavy focus on the senses, such as sound, emphasizing its reality, unlike many of Poe's stories which are aided by the supernatural. The traditional elements established in popular horror tales at the time are followed, but critical reception has been mixed. The tale has been adapted to film several times.
The narrator does not listen to his sentence because his mind wanders at the time of the sentence delivery. All he hears is voices. The reader is not even informed of the crime the narrator is accused of. He no longer has his senses because of the dream-like state he has put himself in. In that state, the narrator faints. He later finds himself in a very dark room. The assumption is that he is now in prison.
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A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality study guides that feature detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, quotes, and essay topics. As he casts around for some comfort, his eye falls on seven white candles standing before him on the table. Desperate, he turns instead to thoughts of the peace and quiet of the grave—until, overcome by fear and suspense, he faints. Sleep and death, he reflects, must have a lot in common—and fainting is somewhere between those two, putting you closer to the mysterious world of the dead than sleep alone can. Case in point: even though he was unconscious, the narrator has memories of what happened next.