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The Reality and Fantasy in An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge

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The Reality and Fantasy in An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge
Ambrose Bierce fictionally narrates the ordeal of Farquhar, who was being hanged in the hands of the army for attempting to destroy a strategic bridge. The author uses various literary elements to describe the hanging and the Farquhar’s “escape”. The reader is convinced that Farquhar managed to escape from the hanging, the shooting, and the drowning to meet his beautiful wife. However, all this did not happen, and all this was Farquhar’s fantasy during a period of a quarter of an hour in which he hung on the rope before he died. Ambrose uses two entirely different worlds to drive his point of blending fantasy with the harsh reality of a man who is dying while still in his life of illusion (Bierce, 2). The author uses poetic and self-delusion styles of writing to blend fact, the actual death of Farquhar, and fantasy, the escape plan. In “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge,” by Ambrose Bierce, the blurred lines between reality and fantasy, create a character who appears to live his dream-like state.
Bierce mainly employs the technique of blending fantasy and reality while narrating his fictional short story. He presents an external world of reality where Farquhar is hanged at the bridge of Owl Creek. However, the author also creates an internal world which is Farquhar illusion. The main character seems to be hallucinating, and he visualizes the success of his escape mission. It is ironical how he managed to loosen the noose despite having his hands tied, avoiding drowning and later dodging bullets and cannons.

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The world of fantasy commences until Farquhar manages to make a long trip home to meet his beautiful wife. A turn of the event later happens when the reader is notified about the reality and what transpired at the bridge (Carroll, 302). The reality opens up when Bierce that this was all an illusion of Farquhar when he was hanging on the rope and almost dying for the last quarter of an hour. This is against the expectations of every reader who was initially stunned by the love of Farquhar to his wife and children.
The author also uses self-delusion to convince the reader that Farquhar escaped death and managed to reach home and meet her lover. He manages to seduce the writer that Farquhar escape mission worked leaving the reader no room to question about the same. While the body was hanging for almost a quarter of an hour, the author uses this moment to delude to the breaking of the rope and later escaping. This had changed individual perception, and some were convinced that death can be avoided. This is all an illusion and death cannot be sidestepped because it is an inevitable part of life. However, the author uses several tipoffs to hint the readers that the reality happened and thus the story was only based on fantasy (Bierce, 3). On his way home, Farquhar feels the pain that he relates to walking for long distances. The notion of a swollen tongue, closed eyes, and the swollen neck are all indications that hanging was a reality. Farquhar could also hear the sounds of canon as if someone was being shot. All this was happening and is took place during a quarter of an hour which he was hanging and swinging from the rope.
While many authors utilize the flashback as a narrative technique, Bierce uses the flash forward technique to show the distention of time. Since the falling from the bridge, the story flashes forward to the escaping from the death. The loosening of the noose, the dodging of bullets and avoiding drowning were all illusions that precede the initial and actual reality of mortality. However, Farquhar’s long trip to home in the quest of meeting his wife was also a flash forward memory. Distention of time is used to explain the occurrence of events as they unfold. Time and motion seem to slow down as symbolized by the slow movement of the river. This denotes that during death, time may seem altered and also absurd. The whole narration becomes sensational during the last moments of death. It is also the moment when humans critically contemplate on the most important people, things and other factors in their lives. Farquhar manages to remember his wife and, therefore, runs home to embrace her.
In conclusion, Ambrose Bierce develops the character of Farquhar into that of an individual who lives in his world of illusion and fantasy while the reality is unfolding in the other world. The representation of the two worlds symbolizes the range of feelings a dying human being may experience. Although humans understand reality, it is always hard to embrace the reality (VAN ENK, 64). Some people always prefer living in their world of fantasies despite knowing the reality, and it’s always painful to comprehend and understand when the truth dawns on them. The incidence at the owl creek bridge is a wake-up call to all humanity to embrace and live by reality.
Work cited
Bierce, Ambrose. Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge and Other Stories. Dover Publications, 2012.
Internet resource.
Carroll, Joseph. “Meaning and Effect in Fiction: An Evolutionary Model of Interpretation
Illustrated with a Reading of “Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge”. “Style 46.4 (2012): 297-316.
VAN ENK, J. U. S. T. I. N. “Escaping the Reality of Bierce’s “An Occurrence at Owl Creek
Bridge”.” A Journal of Academic Writing (2013): 64.

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