Horror and Suspense in Bierce's Work

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Horror and Suspense in Bierce's Work

A novel is divided into different chapters and usually has different

plots to focus on. In a novel there are lots of characters and the

time scale is constantly changing throughout. Because there is more

than one theme and there are different messages coming across of

combined themes, makes the novel denser and more complicated to

understand and to take in all the description.

Ambrose Bierce wrote a lot of short stories and some we have studied

and analysed. In a short story there is usually only one plot and the

event usually carries on in the same setting. There are usually a

couple of characters and one hidden message which makes the short

stories more to the point and very direct.

As I was analysing the short stories by Bierce, I realised that most

of the characters in them were male and most of the stories contained

physicians. Looking over Bierce’s background I was able to see that

Bierce was brought up in a male dominated area where women were

secondary characters. I assume this is why Bierce’s main characters

are male and the female characters only play a secondary part in the


He had a son who committed suicide and a son who drank himself to

death. I think this is why Bierce put physicians in most of his

stories. The physicians don’t know when the victims of the stories are

about to die, so maybe Bierce could relate to these because no

physician could warn him about his sons dying.

Throughout Bierce’s stories he has a good use of horror and suspense.

He does this by being very concise and to the point. He also makes

more impact on us as he uses pathetic thalacy. He does this by

describing the weather in such a way that reflects on the mood o...

... middle of paper ...

...he misery of others.’ This ties

in with us laughing at the misery of Henry Armstrong.

Others find it horrifying as they would be terrified of being buried

alive and in those days it was quite common for medical students to

dig up the corpses. This also ties in with Bierce’s definition of a

grave, which I also found in ‘The Devil’s Dictionary.’ A grave is a

place in which the dead are laid to await the coming of the medical


Reading these stories of Bierce’s I found to be very interesting and

thoroughly enjoyed. I think it is clear that Bierce was trying to

scare a lot of people and effectively did as the description, the

language used, the mixed feelings it sends out and the context of his

writing creates a lot of horror and suspense.

Some may say that Bierce is sick others say that he is very

intelligent. Bierce- brilliant or disturbed?

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