The characters in Edgar Allen Poe's short story "The Pit and the Pendulum" are an unnamed narrator, seven judges, a group of captors and General Lasalle with his army. However, for the most part the unnamed narrator is alone, finding himself trapped in some kind of dungeon. The seven judges only appear at the beginning of the story and the French army led by General Lasalle only appears at the end.
The seven judges at the opening of the story, operating under the auspices of the Spanish Inquisition, are portrayed as immovably harsh. They are included in the story to provide the reader with background information as to the reasons for the narrator's incarceration. They have sentenced him to death.
Upon receiving his sentence, the narrator faints and when he wakes up he is in the dungeon. Here, an unseen captor provides him with bread and water. Later, his captors provide him with a dish of meat, having bound him to a wooden board below a gradually descending scythe on a pendulum.
With the help of rats, the narrator manages to escape from the board. Shortly afterwards, he is rescued by the French general Lasalle and his army, who have stormed the prison.