"An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" is a story of illusion, decision, and fate. It presents one with a very powerful scenario - one that questions the protagonist 's ultimate destiny, and the concept of good vs. evil. It defines the grey area of deeds by which most humans live, and uses powerful thematic concepts and devices to convey the author 's own value while leaving some space for the reader to make their own choice. Furthermore, this story discusses the life of a man who ended up on the wrong side of history, humanizing yet criminalizing him for his beliefs. This can all be attributed to a wide array of symbols and interactions- all which support the theme of illusion vs. reality. The complex thematic value of this piece stems from multiple aspects – the most important of which are the bridge through both its literal and symbolic meaning, the colour grey in all its depth and broad variations, the essence of time in all of its distortion, and the story 's style of writing.
A connection between two opposite ends, the bridge plays a significant role in "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge". Not only does it serve to connect two sides of a war, but the bridge also connects Farquhar to both his desire and his fate - a fate caused by an illusion of a Confederate soldier. As Farquhar prepares to be hanged, the bridge to him is a bridge – or gap – between life and death; once he is thrown off, the bridge then becomes Farquhar 's emotional connection between his illusion of escape and the reality of his fate. Next, the bridge not only serves as a barrier between him and his desired fate, but also as the connection between his...
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...ly events forged by the human mind.
The theme of illusion vs reality plays a significant role in the assertion of the message behind “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge.” It enriches the story and provides with deeper value. It also discusses critical issues such as the concept of what makes a persons destiny, and the historic value of slavery. In order to enhance the effect of the theme on the reader, Ambrose Bierce uses multiple symbolic and writing enhancers to magnify the effect of his story. He uses symbols such as the bridge to show the gap between illusion and reality, the colour grey in all of its shades to symbolize the degrees of goodness in the world and the degrees of reality, time in all of its distortion to show the corruption of reality, and finally him own writing style to to implement the differences between illusion and reality at various points.
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