Analysis of An Occurrence at Owl Creek

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Although the story “An Occurrence at Owl Creek,” is ironic, there are other literary elements represented in the story. Perhaps Ambrose Bierce’s most famous works, he used imagery from his own personal experiences in the Civil War, which adds to the suspense of the short story. Imagination is a difficult word to define. The ability to have a daydream, or picture with vivid details, is what imagination could be. An imagination is key for some people, who escape real life into a fantasy world. Bierce's “An Occurrence at Owl Creek” uses point of view, structure, and symbolism to show the power or capability of imagination.
Point of view, was used very effectively in “An Occurrence at Owl Creek.” Although point of view can be effective in any story, the action changes points of view in the story, making for a more shocking end of the story. Since most stories are not told from the authors point of view, but rather from a characters or narrators point of view, this story is told using third-person limited omniscient point of view. For example, the story begins with the reader discovering that a person is about to be hanged. At this present time, the audience does not know why someone is going to be hanged. Bierce gives some indication as to why Peyton is to be hung, such as, “his executioners – two private soldiers of the Federal army, directed by a sergeant…” (Bierce 83). He gave the readers some insight, as to the reason for the hanging. However he still kept the reader in the dark about many things. Bierce holds information from the audience until, the timing is right in the story. For example, Bierce withholds the information about the circumstances behind the hanging until after the hanging occurs. Bierce used this to keep the au...

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... Although imagination may have its limits, in everyday life it is really useful. Someone can escape real life, into a fantasy world. However an imagination can be distracting, for some people. In the story, Peyton's imagination emerged in a way in which is indescribable in real life.

Works Cited

Bierce, Ambrose. “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge.” Literature: An Introduction to Reading and Writing. 10Th ed. Ed. Edgar V. Roberts and Robert Zweig. New York: Longman 2012. 83 – 88. Print.
Holladay, Hal. "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge." Masterplots II: Short Story Series, Revised Edition (2004): 1-3. Literary Reference Center Plus. Web. 17 Feb. 2014.

Stoicheff, Peter. “ 'Something Uncanny': The Dream Structure In Ambrose Bierce's 'An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge'.” Studies In Short Fiction 30.3 (1993): 349. Literary Reference Center Plus. Web. 17 Feb. 2014.

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