A Vision Of Death Essay, Research Paper
Since a long time ago, one topic that caught writer’s attention is the death and all related to it. It influenced in a such way that developed into a complete and independent gender. The horror literature, that will influence the cinema. Unfourtanly that incredible and dark literature, in the last years, became in vulgar tales where as many people die as better the story, also movies were corrupted. We can find good examples of this decadence in movies like ?The Night of the Living Deaths? or the magazines where death is exposed as a distraction for morbid minds hungry of disgusting photographs, and violent deaths. If we look for a book were death is considered as something mysterious and unpredictable (and no a blood pool) we must look at the old literature ? fourtanly there are some writers in our days who talk about death in that way.
But what is death, dictionary defines it as ?the end of life? or ?termination of all organic functions? a very occidental definition of death. Nevertheless other cultures, specially primitives, consider death as a gate or event, that take your soul to carry it at other level of existence, it means leave the material world, and go to a spiritual one. That’s why many people ask themselves what happens after death, the body die and that’s all?, the soul leaves the body to continue existence in other place?, what happens in the mind of a dying man?.
Maybe Ambrose Bierce asked himself this questions before write ? An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge?, maybe he made this questions when he saw something at that place (he was there for a time). Probably Bierce get shocked by war and all the death he saw in the fields of battle. What ever Bierce writes about death in a very particular way, he doesn’t talk about it explicitly, he does it through the relate in an implicit way.
Before continue with the analysis, it’s necessary make a brief summary of the story, in order to understand about what we’ll talk about. The story is as follows: in northern Alabama at the Owl Creek bridge there’s a man about to be hanged, his name is Farquhar, in his last moments he looks down and thinks about his family. The atmosphere is so silent that he can hear the ticking of his watch, and now he thinks in escape. Next as a flash back the story of how he get to the bridge, the confederated soldier, their conversation about the bridge and what will happen if a man could approche at the bridge and burn it.
And then suddenly he falls through the bridge,and feels how his body starts to die, he feels horrible pains that grow through all his body, his mind is erased he only feels pain inside a luminous cloud. Next he hears a plash and realises is in the water, there he fights to get at the light over the water, after a great effort he managed to get at the surface. Now he realises his sens are stronger he can hear the water and see every feature of the trees along the river, then he hears a shot the soldiers were shooting him, after swim and elude the enemy fire he gets at the bank there ,again, his senses take place he feel the sand as the most beautiful thing and smells the fragrance of the plants.
But he woke up of his dream when he felt that soldiers were shooting at him, he stood up and ran to the forest, he walked for along time until he get at the path to his house, while he was walking everything was silent, stars seemed make weird constellations and pain cameback to his body, next he was at the entrance of his house, he saw his wife and when he was about to clap her he saw a glow that covered all, and then everything was dark, he was death.
After reading the summary, we can start the analysis of the story. The first point are the last moments of life, those hours, minutes, seconds before die, what happens in the mind of a man about to die?. Specially when he knows death is near. The first part of the story talks about that moments, seconds after die you think ,first of all, in the people you love, and if will see them again. Time seems to stop a second becomes in hour, then the silence, people that suffered terrible accidents say they didn’t see or hear anything, death and silence come together.
Silence, last thoughts, and also flashbacks, in the story the events that took Farquhar at the bridge are in some kind of flashback. Flashbacks or remembrances, they can come to you at any moment, but when they come with a shocking event as an accident, or like in this case death, they are longer images from your past come to your mind at an incredible speed, you can see your entire life in just a second. In the story the only is the flashback we mentioned, is more than a simple flashback is the end of it, the last part of Farquhar’s life.
After the flashback, comes the pain, here Bierce describes the pain of a hanged man in a very realistic way, probably he saw by himself a man being hanged, and felt the pain of the man. That will explain how Bierce knows those feelings. The pain that horrible thing, with the power of break minds, get confessions, and block your thoughts in a way that you become into a body without mind or even soul.
Next, when the pain has gone, what comes next no body knows. Referring again at the story, Farquhar felt he fell to the river, he escaped from his enemies, and when he was in the river his sens become stronger. This means Farquhar realised the value of life, the paragraph about his sens talks about how people understands that we live live in a world full of life. People that had experiences near the death can confirm this, after their experiences they see life in other way.
Return to the story at the last part, where Farquhar get away of the river and walks looking for a path to his house, after a time he found it, next he get at his hose where he saw his wife. Here Bierce makes allusion to the last moment of life, that moment where your soul leaves your body and starts to travel looking for your beloveds, for say good bye and leave this world. There are many stories like this, a loved familiar visits others for see them one more time, they came in dreams, or as any other manifestation.
Concluding the analysis, is important to mention an interesting feature in Bierce’s story. Along the relate the narrator talks many times about a glow, a luminous cloud or light. This elements are clue because they say that all the story is only in Farquhar’s mind, the story of the white light before die is well known, so those lights are the representation of Farquhar’s agony, the fight of his body for keep alive, the light is only seen in some passages, and in the final part where the light represents Farquhar’s death.
While Farquhar is dying, he runaways from his captors, but in fact he never move left the bridge, one scientific explanation for this are hallucinations, images created by the brain due to a chemical reaction in the cerebral bark. But why Bierce writes about the hallucinations of a man, actually the passage of the runaway is the fight of Farquhar’s mind and soul for be alive, his mind produces the sensations, of pain, the detail of the things he see and watch, the fragrance of the plants all that for take Farquhar away from the thoughts of death, his mind keeps him far away from the suffering of agony. Next the run away, Farquhar gets away from the bridge and look for a path to his house where his loved ones are, this is some kind of travel the travel of Farquhar’s soul, first leaving his body and next go home, go home and see his family for last time, and then start another travel to other level of existence, or only to disapeer, nobody knows because nobody cameback to tell us.
Finaly it’s important to remark that Bierce spent some time in war, there he saw suffering and death, there he saw that doesn’t matter from which band you are, when death comes all of us are equal, soldiers, captains, civilian all will die, and no one of them wants to die. One reason for choose as main character a civilian, a confederated civilian, we must remember Bierce was a unionist, so why choose an enemy for main character. The reason is obvious, Bierce wanted to show a human being, an enemy, but also human being. So Bierce shows us a human and no a civilian, a soldier or a general doesn’t from which band.
As a conclusion, we can say that Bierce looks at death as something mysterious, for him death is like a lesson, a lesson that teach us how precious are our lives. Death is seen as a ceremony a silent ceremony where you think in the ones you love, then instead of think in you, you wish they’ll be well and no suffering will hurt them. And in the last second before die you don’t want to, as a suicide that repents of his decision before touch the ground. Here your mind takes place, when you are dying you see what you want to see a loved one that calls you, your soul flying above your body, or like Farquhar a run away from death, is your last breath of life erasing from your mind the horrible think of death. All this things are intended for elude the final lesson a lesson that no one wants to learn, but a lesson that all of us will learn.
As final a commentary, it’s important to say that Bierce is one of the few authors, that can talk about death without talk about it, that means he talks in an implicit way, using metaphors or putting elements that give you the idea of death without describing bloody situation. Bierce expose death as something we must respect because death can reach us at any time whoever we are or wherever we’ll go.
* I apologise for any grammatical or syntactical error (I don’t speak English very well, as you could see) please send your comments or corrections at firstname.lastname@example.org I will be glad to know your opinions.