Thesis statement on an occurrence at owl creek bridge

The protagonist is not a hero, but a villain and a coward. This paper deals with this aforementioned misconception, since it is a common one. David M. Owens shares a similar view to Woodruff. In his insightful study of the geographic background of the story's setting he calls Farquhar a "romantic, idealistic man. The result is misreading.

Furthermore, Woodruff is known to be one of the foremost and most sensible Bierce scholars, "one of the story's closest analysts" [12] , and thus his words are not to be easily put aside. But in the case of Owl Creek Bridge , particularly in judging Peyton Farquhar as a hero, he nevertheless is on the wrong track. Woodruff is correct in a different aspect though—part of why the story works and is such a compelling one, is because probably almost every reader at first sympathizes with Farquhar, the gentleman with the kind eyes.

Viewing the story and its protagonist from a different angle adds new aspects to it and gives the reader insight into its deeper meaning and answers the question of why Farquhar had to suffer the cruel fate of being hanged.

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Therefore, a close reading and analysis of An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge is necessary to correctly interpret and fully appreciate it. To ask that the laws of the universe be annulled in behalf of a single petitioner confessedly unworthy. In order to judge the main character of An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge in a fair manner, it is worthwhile considering in detail what he presumably is being hanged for, as the reader cannot know for sure.

First of all, he intended to burn the bridge to cut off the Yankee supply line, but what is more—and easily overlooked or not even realized at all, as Bierce uses a euphemism here—he almost certainly had in mind to assassinate the sentinel. After Farquhar is informed by the Federal scout about how many Union soldiers are positioned on his side of the river and told that there is only a single man at this end of the bridge, he asks, smiling: "Suppose a man—a civilian and student of hanging—should elude the picket post and perhaps get the better of the sentinel … what could he accomplish?

It is important to keep in mind here that he is a civilian, which means that he is not going to encounter the soldier in combat in a fair or honorable way, but treacherously, being dressed as a civilian and taking action as a soldier.

The Reality and Fantasy in An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge | Theses and Essay Writers

Therefore, Bierce tells the reader, even if the protagonist is tricked, this does not mean that he is treated unfairly, since he under no circumstances acted like an upright and honest man is supposed to. He planned to deceive his opponents just as they did the other way around, only that apparently they were smarter than he was.


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Farquhar knows what awaits him in case of capture. With the knowledge of a second reading of the story, it is also quite obvious that the Union scout attempts to lure the planter into burning the bridge, since he tells him that "it [driftwood against the bridge] is now dry and would burn like tow" Woodruff's argumentation that "Farquhar is made still more sympathetic by the fact that he was deliberately deceived into trying to destroy the Owl Creek Bridge, for which he is executed by the Union soldiers" [14] therefore only holds true if the reader ignores the circumstances of the affair.

Farquhar indeed was deceived but had his part in what happened. Without his arrogant belief of being smarter than the Union soldiers he could have done without the gallows. One thing Farquhar did not do was to enlist in the army, as Bierce voluntarily did at the age of nineteen.

An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge by Ambrose Bierce (Summary) - Minute Book Report

It is quite illuminating to look for the explanation, or rather non-explanation, why Farquhar did not take active part in the fighting as a soldier. The information given is few and also rather convoluted. He does not provide the reader with details here, which somehow lets the affair appear suspicious and dubious.

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If Bierce had wanted to give Farquhar a credible reason for abstaining from the war, he would have done so, but he left room for speculation on purpose. Furthermore, it is stated that. Stallman, R. The Unwritten War. New York , All subsequent references to this edition. The Short Stories of Ambrose Bierce.

An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge Essay

The other characters presented in this story were the Sergeant who hung him, the Northern Scout, and finally his wife. Each of these characters can be classified as a flat character because they are not dynamic in any way, because each one only provides one role throughout the whole story. His wife is probably the most important flat character because she is the reason he reflects on his past and comes to a final realization before he dies.

The sergeant in the beginning merely plays the role of a typical soldier and takes everything he does very seriously. He could be classified as a stock character because his role is a common stereotype of a soldier. Finally, the last character described in the story was the messenger.


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  • His role was simply to act as the transitioning character that led the main character to end up dead. It helped the reader believe that Peyton really did escaped and become the man he wanted to be for his wife, even though he never really escaped. The different dimensions drew the readers attention and essentially told us that Peyton finally came to a self realization once it was too late. An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge. Accessed October 19, This is just a sample.

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