An Occurence Essay Research Paper An Occurrence

An Occurence Essay, Research Paper

An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge


Ralph Tortis

“An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” is a powerful story. The author, Ambrose Bierce, has a unique style to pull the reader into the story. Bierce uses illusions to allow the reader to follow wherever his ideas lead. An illusion is an unreal or misleading image presented to the vision, a deceived envision. Bierce’s brilliant ability of describing surroundings, feelings, and thoughts draws the reader into the story.

Bierce uses detailed descriptions in his examples of illusion. His description of Peyton Farquhar: ” His features were good – straight nose, firm mouth, broad forehead, from which his long dark hair was combed straight back, falling behind his ears to the collar of his well-fitted frock coat”.(Bierce81) His purpose was for the mind to emphasize feelings more toward the condemned man. Bierce enhances the story with descriptions of minor thoughts. “A piece of dancing drift wood caught his attention and his eyes followed it down the current. How slow it appeared to move! What a sluggish stream!” (Bierce 82). This allows the reader to be inside the thoughts of Peyton. Bierce confuses the reader, so he/she is not sure if the man is hung or if he actually escapes. The ending of the story was dramatically enhanced. Bierce explains the entire story in the last few lines. “As he is about to clasp her, he feels a stunning blow upon the back of his neck; a blinding white light blazes all about him, with a sound like the shock of a cannon – then all is darkness and silence!” (Bierce 87) The sudden ending illustrates a dramatic irony.

Bierce had total control of the reader’s perception. He made the reader feel the deepest thoughts of Peyton Farquhar. At the beginning the reader feels that Peyton died, yet suddenly Bierce gives a vision of life. The dream of escape seemed like reality for most of the story. The detailed description how Peyton broke free from being hung gives the reader a thought that Peyton did not die. It allowed the reader to cheer for Peyton. Bierce gives the reader a side story, so he/she can have sincere feelings for Peyton. Bierce explains that Peyton is a respectable man. ” Peyton Farquhar was well-to-do planter, of an old and highly respected Alabama family.” (Bierce 82). Bierce forces the reader to feel that Peyton is an innocent man being hung. The ending is the greatest example of an illusion that dramatically enhances the story. “Ah, how beautiful she is! He springs forward with extended arms.” (Bierce 87) Bierce forces the reader to feel as joyful as possible by remarking his wife. Suddenly, Bierce stops his complexion illusions, and proves that Peyton Farquhar is dead.

Bierce divides the story into three sections. This technique helps the reader understand the overview of the story. It allows the reader to concentrate on what Bierce wants emphasized. The first and second parts are very closely related. Both are the steps and processes of his escape, hanging, and focal point of the story. Part two is an in-depth understanding of Peyton Farquhar. It illustrates the reason why Peyton was hung.

This story entertained me from the very beginning to end. Bierce’s work in this story was different. The unique use of illusions kept me in suspense. The detailed words that he uses for description allowed me to picture all the parts of the story. The dividing of three parts of the story help me stay focused. The combination of these techniques helped me understand every aspect of the story. In any life situation people’s minds go through millions of thoughts in a matter of seconds. This story was a great example.


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