1a. What does the prisoner remember about the reason why he is imprisoned?
2a. Describe the cell where the prisoner is kept.
3a. How does the prisoner escape the descending pendulum?
4a. If Poe writes to create a single effect, what are the ingredients of setting, atmosphere, and plot that create the effect?
5a. Do you think the Inquisition is justified in the methods of torture used to punish its prisoners? What does this tell you about the ethics or morality of the monarchy of Spain at that time?
1b. What could account for the speaker's fuzzy memory of the events that led to his imprisonment?
2b. Why is there a pit in the center of the cell? Why wasn't the prisoner executed immediately?
3b. What does the prisoner's plan for escape tell you about his character? Why did it take so long for him to devise a plan for escape from the swinging blade?
4b. Describe the single effect that Poe has created.
5b. Tales of terror, or horror stories, have been popular throughout history and continue to be popular with modern readers. Why do you think people are attracted to the morbid and grotesque situations often presented in this genre of literature?
Point of View.How does the first-person limited point of view add to the suspense in the story?
Gothic Fiction. Complete the chart below, listing the sensory details you encountered as you read the selection. What sensory details does Poe use to create the mood of foreboding and fearful apprehension?
1. Imagine that you are the prisoner in the story and write a journal entry describing your experiences in the prison cell. Use your own paper as necessary.
2. Make a storyboard with descriptions of the main scenes from the story, accompanied by drawings of the main character in the settings where he finds himself. Use your own paper as necessary.
3. The lifesaving event at the end of the story, the conquest of the tormentors by the French army, and the release of the prisoner would be covered as a major news story if it happened today. Write a press release describing this event. The press release should offer facts and should avoid opinion. You may want to refer to the Language Arts Survey 6.9, "Delivering a Press Release." Use your own paper as necessary.
Using Context Clues. Write the definition of each underlined word, using context clues to deduce its meaning.
1. The prisoner searched frantically for a crevice in the masonry but could find no such crack or opening.
2. He had been remanded, or sent back, to his dungeon after the sentence was passed.
3. Pictures of monstrosities such as fiends, leering skeletons, and evil spirits covered the wall.
4. The prisoner was horrified to see several rats traversing, or traveling across, the floor.
5. The prisoner went through a period of insensibility and remembered nothing that happened during this time of unconsciousness.