"... the wind made in the tree's branches the music of Æolian harps." Ambrose Bierce uses allusions and imagery to create a sense of wonderment and mysteriousness for first-time readers of his historical fiction story An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge. Within this short story, a man named Peyton Farquhar is being hung from Owl Creek Bridge for trespassing into Union territory during the civil war. As he is dropped the rope breaks and he makes his escape after dropping into the river below. After swimming through gunfire and a vortex, traversing through an endless forest, and suffering thirst and weariness, Farquhar finally reaches his home. Just as he is greeted by his wife, Farquhar's world ends as his neck breaks and his body is hanging from the bridge. The sudden conclusion reveals the past events, starting from the rope breaking, was all a hallucination. While the ending shocks many first-time readers, second-time readers may recognize numerous instances of foreshadowing implemented into the figurative language used to create emotion. In order to embed this foreshadowing, Bierce creates certain events in the hallucination that correspond with events outside of the hallucination. Furthermore, he adds conspicuous allusions to Greek mythology. Lastly, Bierce formulates a very unnatural and vague setting around Peyton Farquhar as he is hallucinating. Veteran readers will notice these three key components of foreshadowing.
"Suddenly he felt himself... spinning like a top" is an example of foreshadowing found in hallucination events. In the hallucination, Farquhar is spinning around in the vortex of water. In the actual events, he is spinning as he is dropping from the plank.
Other examples of this style of foreshadowing exist in the story. "... he could no longer close them [his eyes]" Conscious of the ending, veteran readers will view this quote as a sign that his neck is being constricted in real life due to the rope around his neck. Lastly, "He could no...
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