Literary Analysis Of An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge

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Literary Analysis: An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge

“An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” by Ambrose Bierce, written in 1890, is a story about the lengths one will go to escape death, and the vanity of man. Part one of this three part story begins with a gentleman who let himself be tricked by “soldiers of the Federal Army”. He is awaiting his execution for plotting against the Union and attempting to set the bridge on fire. He thinks about his wife and children, all while standing on the edge of a plank on the Owl Creek Bridge, with his hands bound and a noose wrapped firmly around his neck. He dreams up an elaborate escape plan, one that he knows is not only impossible but bound to fail. Part one ends with a Sergeant stepping off the board …show more content…

Peyton momentarily loses consciousness, but is “awakened--ages later, it seemed to him--by the pain of a sharp pressure upon his throat, followed by a sense of suffocation”. As he hangs from the bridge, he begins to feel all sorts of sensations: “These sensations were unaccompanied by thought. The intellectual part of his nature was already effaced; he had power only to feel, and feeling was torment. He was conscious of motion. Encompassed in a luminous cloud, of which he was now merely the fiery heart, without material substance, he swung through unthinkable arcs of oscillation, like a vast pendulum.” Miraculously, the rope breaks and his elaborate escape plan from earlier comes to fruition; he is now in the water and can loosen his restraints. He escapes gunfire, cannon blast, and forces himself forward. This entire scene is filled foreshadowing about his actual fate: “His neck was in pain and lifting his hand to it found it horribly swollen. He knew that it had a circle of black where the rope had bruised it. His eyes felt congested; he could no longer close them. His tongue was swollen with thirst…”. Peyton, unable to grasp what is happening, makes an alternate reality in which he escapes and makes it home to his beloved family. Ambrose Bierce’s “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” plays with many themes, the most important being what lengths man will go to escape death. Peyton went from imagining

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