Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Ambrose Bierce

An Occurrence at Owl creek Bridge is a really interesting short story wirtten by Ambrose Bierce. There is a fair amount of Trancendentalist influence in it, especially the way the author describes nature and how the main character views right and wrong. Between the two of these, it is fair to say that the author was probably very influenced by writers like Emerson.
In An Occurrenece at Owl Creek, the thoughts that went through Peyton Farquhar's mind before he died often had a lot to do with nature. Before the sergeant steps aside to allow Farquhar to hang, Farquhar's thoughts are mostly centered on the nature around him, like the peice of driftwood below him. He even neglects to think about his family until the very last moment before he starts to fall (Bierce). In his flash forward, he spends a lot of time noticing and appreciating the nature around him. When he reaches the bank of the creek, he takes special attention to the sand, and compares it to precious gems (Bierce). This appreciation of nature is very similar to Trancendentalism because people like Emerson thought nature was the best means to spirituality (Wayne).
Another way Bierce's main character is similar tot he Trancendentalists is that his morals are not really so conventional. He believes it is right to do things that under normal circumstances would be wrong because he is doing them for his country (Bierce). In Emerson's Self Reliance, he writes about how a person should do what they think is right, even if another person might think it is wrong. The key similarity between the two is that they both allow for different moral standards in different circumstances.
The ending of An Occurance at Owl Creek is very strange, and deserves some mention. After reading the story of how Farquhad escapes the Union soldiers and returns home to his wife, the reader finds that the entire story was only a flash forward, and that Farquhad's neck breaks when he reaces the extent of the rope. This is a very creative, but also pretty sad way to end the story. Before he was hung, his thoughts were on the nature around him until they turned to his wife at the very end. While he was falling, his thoughts were on nature and the perils of his imaginary way home until the end, when they again turn to his wife.
Bierce, Ambrose. "Fiction: An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge." Fiction: Welcome to The EServer's Fiction Collection. Web. 15 Feb. 2012. http://fiction.eserver.org/short/occurrence_at_owl_creek.html.
Emerson, Ralph. "Self-Reliance." Ralph Waldo Emerson Texts. Web. 15 Feb. 2012. .
Wayne, Tiffany K. "Nature." Critical Companion to Ralph Waldo Emerson: A Literary Reference to His Life and Work, Critical Companion. New York: Chelsea House Publishing, 2010. Bloom's Literary Reference Online. Facts On File, Inc. Web. 15 Feb. 2012. http://www.fofweb.com/activelink2.asp?ItemID=WE54&SID=5&iPin= CCRWE0289&SingleRecord=True.

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