An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge

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An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge, written by Ambrose Bierce in 1890-1891, depicts an antiwar motif of the American Civil War. Bierce uses dramatic irony, descriptive imagery and the theme of time. The war was fought from 1861 to 1865 after seven Southern slave states declared their secession and formed the Confederate States of America, also known as the “Confederacy” or the “South.” The remaining states were known as the “Union” or the “North.” The war’s origin was the issue of slavery, especially the extension of slavery into the western territories of the United States. After four years of bloody combat, over 600,000 soldiers were dead and much of the South’s infrastructure had been destroyed. The Confederacy collapsed, slavery was abolished with the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863, and reconstruction process of national unity and guaranteed rights to freed slaves began.
In An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge, Bierce uses the setting to begin his short story. The actual year of the setting is unclear, but Bierce does mention the fall of Corinth, which was occupied by Union forces in May 1862 (Bierce 655). The main character, Peyton Farquhar, was well-off planter of an old and respected Alabama family. He was a slave owner, a politician, a secessionist, meaning he was devoted to the Southern cause of seceding from the United States. He was not allowed to be in the army, for a reason that is irrelevant to the story, according to the narrator; however, he does whatever job he can in aid of the South, as he is of good character and faith (655). This is a very important detail to the story, as Farquhar is being hanged when the story begins.
Bierce’s An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge is an antiwar short story. It show...

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...of the story. This type of story, that prompts afterthoughts, is a great way to write short stories. t demonstrates great control of the writings and the ability to control the story.
An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge uses dramatic irony, imagery and time to piece this short story together in a compelling way that brings the readers through the text in a swift, but gentle movement. Bierce is also protesting the Civil War going on in the United States as futile and inhumane. He produces a timeless piece that can be related to present times and times to come. He maintains control throughout the entire work and uses the element of surprise to the benefit of his work. Bierce’s ability to create a dramatic, detailed story using imagery and irony to establish a vibrant mental image and produce the well-written short story of An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge.

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