Point of View on the Cask Bridge

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In the minds of many, legendary director Alfred Hitchcock’s infamous shower scene in the 1960 classic Psycho brought the phrase “point of view” into the language of the general public. What most do not realize is that those in the many spectrums of entertainment have been taking full advantage of the benefits brought on by an audience being dealt a limited field of vision for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. Prior to the advent of film and theater, the best place to find this method in use was literature. The origin of the point of view in literature can be traced back to the earliest forms of literature, where much of what was dictated and recorded was recounted from life experiences. It is of no surprise to most that the idea of point of view stayed, and evolved into many subsections, thanks in full to the fact that every story has a point of view. In the 19th century, point of view hit a creative peak, with the wildly inventive writers of the period finding new avenues to pursue with their works. Stories from that time period authored by individuals such as Edgar Allen Poe and Ambrose Bierce are still read today. What allows Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado” and Bierce’s “Occurrence of Owl Creek Bridge” to be taught as shining examples of wonderful literature are not expert characterizations, moody settings, or heart-wrenching themes as one may expect after studying their other works. Instead, it is the point of view methods that both authors employ that make their works so revered.
When many think of Edgar Allen Poe, their recollection of the man most likely comes back to his gothic classic, “The Raven.” Despite parodies of the story appearing on classic television shows such as “The Simpsons,” “The Cask of Amontillado” is probably the last Poe story the average person will identify by name. The subject matter of “Amontillado,” though, is not something that would normally be the topic of ridicule. It’s a frightening tale of revenge, humiliation, and murder. Just as Hitchcock would do over a hundred years later, Poe chooses for his audience to see the story through the eyes of a character that is far from the usual suspect; a murderer. Written forty years before the “Sherlock Holmes” era of literature, where stories found themselves based on a well-mannered detective who solved crimes instea...

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... breaks, leading him to fall into the water beneath the bridge that was to be the sight of his death. The story follows Farquhar as he escapes the barrage of bullets flying at him, even making it far enough to nearly embrace his wife. It is then, unexpectedly, that Bierce introduces the truth to the audience; it was all in Peyton’s head. “Peyton Farquhar was dead; his body, with a broken neck, swung gently from side to side beneath the timbers of the Owl Creek bridge.” The innovative narration by Bierce, who wrote hundreds of works during his life, marks this tale as a true classic.
Each of these stories both represent two different point of view forms. Originating from two equally amazing writers, “The Cask of Amontillado” and “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” continue to survive the test of time. When one considers that vast amount of literature published before the 21st century, it is a feat in itself to even be a part of a literature anthology. But to be a highlight of that anthology, as Edgar Allen Poe and Ambrose Bierce’s expert use of point of view allows them to, is an even more staggering feat regardless of the eyes being looked through.

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