The short report "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" has received more critical attention than other single work compiled by Ambrose Bierce. That is most likely because of the way the storyline combines into one text the best components sent out among a lot of Bierce's fiction such as narrative, story, imagery, the coverage of human-deception, and a wonder concluding (Stoicheff 1). In "An Event at Owl Creek Bridge", Bierce differentiates between interior and external worlds and illustrates that your brain can create its realities and escapes. He does not inform the reader that Farquhar is hallucinating, but instead expects the reader to judge the storyline and realize the impossibility of events described in the ultimate events of the storyplot. With such literary techniques, Bierce opposed many of the literary tendencies of his day in both his journalism and his fiction. "He thought any view of life which ignored the unconscious functions of mind could not call itself natural" (Davidson 2). "Bierce's works indicate his obsession with ironic, pointless, and strange loss of life, as well as his cynical, disillusioned frame of mind on the meaninglessness of life" (Habibi 2). He detested warfare and found firsthand the absurdity and insanity of computer. This emerges as a connecting theme in a number of of his writings. His protagonists are usually antiheroes plus they make mindful decisions predicated on flawed thinking, which in the end lead to tragic predicaments (Habibi 2-3). Bierce is known for his use of literary elements and skillfully uses third person narrative, a quickly paced storyline, realistic details, and blends dream and truth to lead the reader into believing in Farquhar's break free. Therefore, the reader is unable to interpret Farquhar's true fate until the very end of the storyline.
Bierce cleverly selects to create this storyline in third person narrative. Through the use of third person narrative, the writer is able to execute a variety of various things to fully capture the readers' attention and keep them speculating. He most likely chooses this program of action to mention to the reader the key character's thoughts and emotions also to conceal his death. This perspective, often called limited omniscience, says the storyline from an observer's standpoint (Samide 1). By definition, this narrator has learned all things important in the story, a good character's own thoughts. Therefore, the reader can get a far more in depth consider how the primary character is sensing, as well as tell the reader the outward world of the storyline (Samide 1). On this story, the writer chooses to focus on your brain of only 1 main figure, Farquhar, and enters it extensively throughout the course of the story. At any moment, the narrator may also move in and from the chosen character's mind and thoughts, or advise the reader about what is going on in the outer world of the storyline. Because the creator chooses this aspect of view, it is problematic for the reader to learn Farquhar's get away from is unreal before last type of the story, when the narrator emerges from his brain in order to the reader Farquhar is dead (Samide 1). Bierce skillfully forces the reader to believe in Farquhar's hallucinated escape and therefore, is able to delight the reader with Farquhar's death. It permits Bierce to adopt the reader inside Farquhar's brain to show how emotional confusion alters not only the way the mind interprets the truth of a predicament, but also the way it perceives the passage of time.
Bierce also runs on the rapidly paced story to keep carefully the reader from figuring out the surprise finishing. He quickly paces the plot in order to distract the reader from closely examining Farquhar's unlikely escapes from death. Before the reader has a chance to consider the probability of a broken throat from the rope or some other damage, Bierce has Farquhar attempting never to drown. He sinks deep into the water, his hands still linked collectively and the noose still twisted around his throat. So instead of thinking about his broken throat or suffering from another harm, the reader targets his new issue of drowning. Then, somehow, Farquhar is able to free his hands from the rope and slips off of the noose. But again, the reader is relieved that Farquhar escapes drowning that he will not fully study the likeliness of this break free. Then, Farquhar bursts to the top of normal water for air and must start dodging bullets, diverting the reader's attention once more from the prior escapes from the ropes and drowning (Samide 3). Therefore, by utilizing a rapid paced storyline, Bierce is able to distract the reader from evaluating the likeliness of the escapes by creating new diversions, rendering it more believable for the reader.
Another literary device Bierce uses in "An Event at Owl Creek Bridge" is the aspect of imagery. Bierce depends heavily upon imagery throughout the storyplot, centering on look and seems to make his story more convincing. Bierce would go to great lengths to describe the opening series in conditions of its military services set up. He provides stunning images of group formations and soldier stances such as "an individual company of infantry in line, the barrels inclining backward from the right make, the hands crossed upon the stock, at 'parade rest' the butts of the rifles on the floor" (Bierce 72). These explanations show Bierce's earlier military experience in various wars and fights, giving the storyplot a feeling of realism. Also by using such natural details, Bierce can make Farquhar's escape more believable to the reader. Following the first round of shots from the troops, when he hears the captain give orders to fire, Farquhar dives deep in to the water. Some of the bullets, still warm from the guns, spiral down into this beside him (Samide 3). "One lodged between his collar and neck of the guitar; it was uncomfortably warm and he snatched it out. (Bierce 75)" These few examples of realism lead the reader to believe that Farquhar is very escaping. When he comes to the top again, the existing has considered Farquhar out of firing range of personal weapons, but he must now worry about the cannon being used. The first shot misses, but sprays him with water. The second shot is a much better shot that will surely hit him, but instantly, the existing whirls him around a bend in the river and throws him up on the bank, out of goal of the cannon (Samide 3). While the rapid group of dangers has brought on the reader to consider the probability of each escape, the author's use of imagery and reasonable detail convinces the reader that he is out of threat and is currently on his way to finishing his get away by sacrificing himself in the dense forest and getting back to his wife and family (Samide 3). The rest of the story goes on to spell it out Farquhar's long trip home. He remains on his trip through the forest and lastly occurs to the gate of his own house. He recognizes his wife and she contains out her hands in joyous welcome. As Farquhar gets to out to embrace her, he seems a "stunning blow" to his neck", views a "blinding white light", hears a sounds like the shock of your cannon-then all is darkness and silence" (Bierce76). "At this time in the storyplot, the limited narrator moves out of Farquhar's brain and profits to the target world on the bridge, exposing to the reader the stunning last collection and revelation that, all along, the escape was Farquhar's hallucination" (Samide 3-4). "Peyton Farquhar was inactive; his body, with a busted neck, swung gently from side to side beneath the timbers of the Owl Creek Bridge. " (Bierce 76)
One of the literary elements Bierce uses that he is most known for is his mixing of illusion and actuality. Bierce mixes the external world of fatality with Farquhar's inside world, leading to the success of his hallucination. Farquhar, in his mind, is imagining his outstanding escape when he is actually dying. Bierce skillfully uses metaphors and similes to be able to secretly summarize the real fate of Farquhar. For example, Bierce uses the pendulum not only as a significant metaphor for time, but also as a simile for Farquhar's body, which "swung delicately from side to side under the timbers of the Owl Creek Bridge" (Bierce 76). Farquhar is "aware of motion of the vast pendulum" because his body practically traces, and for that reason senses it. Similar intrusions of other objective stimuli into Farquhar's experience appear throughout the rest of the report. The "sharp statement" of the firing gun, its just a bit later "dulled thunder, " and the alleged "explosion" of the cannon that "was breaking and smashing the branches in the forest beyond" are Farquhar's hallucinated revision of the sound of his own neck breaking. Bierce effectively emphasizes the connection, describing the literal event of Farquhar's neck of the guitar breaking as occurring "with appear to be the shock of an cannon. " "Farquhar's feeling of "rising increasing toward the surface" of the is the dreamer's knowledge of the moderate bounce the body experiences after achieving the extremity of its flexible rope; the feeling of almost drowning in the creek modifies the fact of strangulation itself; the "horribly" aching neck and the "uncomfortably warm" bullet impossibly "lodged between his collar and his neck of the guitar" under this inflatable water reinterpret the pain of clinging; the "counter-swirl" that spins him around in today's identifies the twisting by the end of the rope; the "projecting point which concealed him from his enemies" changes the bridge now above him; the sensation of his own tongue "thrusting forward from between his teeth into the cold air" registers its grotesque protrusion during strangulation; the shortcoming to "feel the roadway beneath his feet" is a likewise accurate feeling, dutifully revised into an understandable fatigue, thirst and numbness nearby the end of his narrative of get away from" (Stoicheff 3). Thus, a key element in the storyline is the distention of energy and the blending of fantasy and reality. The reader is kept with a variety of reactions: the component of wonder, the assurance and lack of expectation, the tragedy of fatality, the best coherence of objective actuality, and acknowledgment of Bierce's carefully designed deception (Habibi 1).
Bierce skillfully blends the 3rd person point of view that conceals Farquhar's death before very end, a rapidly paced storyline of slim escapes from fatality that distract the reader, concrete details that produce the final get away from appear real, and the strategy of blending dream and actuality (Samide 4). Bierce's usage of narrative, plot, imagery, and mixing of illusion and truth make it hard for the reader to identify Farquhar's true fate before final line of the story. In "An Incident at Owl Creek Bridge", Bierce distinguishes between the internal and exterior worlds of Farquhar and shows the reader that your brain can create its own realities and its own escapes. He needs the reader to judge the storyline and realize by himself the impossibility of happenings described in the ultimate events of the storyline (Davidson 2). Bierce purposely uses these elements of fiction to be able to make a suspenseful finishing that links with the central theme of the human being need to escape death.
Welty Bierce, Ambrose. "An Event at Owl Creek. " Books: An Launch to Reading and Writing. 9th ed. Ed. Edgar V. Roberts. New York: Pearson Longman, 2009, 71-76.
Samide, Daniel E. "Anatomy of the Common: Ambrose Bierce Cleverly Used Some Key Literary Tools in Crafting His Civil Warfare Tale 'An Incident at Owl Creek Bridge'. " The Article writer May 2005:42. Books Resources from Gale. Web. 5 Apr. 2010.
Habibi, Don Asher. "The experience of a lifetime: philosophical reflections over a narrative device of Ambrose Bierce. " Studies in the Humanities 29. 2 (2002): 83+. Academics OneFile. Web. 11 Apr. 2010.
Davidson, Cathy N. "Ambrose (Gwinett) Bierce. " American Short-Story Writers Before 1880. Ed. Bobby Ellen Kimbel and William E. Give. Detroit: Gale Research, 1988. Dictionary of Literary Biography Vol. 74. Literature Resources from Gale. Web. 10 Apr. 2010.
Stoicheff, Peter. "'Something Uncanny': The Wish Structure in Ambrose Bierce's 'An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge'. " Studies in a nutshell Fiction 30. 3 (Summer months 1993): 349-357. Joseph Palmisano. Vol. 72. Detroit: Gale, 2004. Literature Resources from Gale. Web. 10 Apr. 2010.