An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge: Mocking the Romantics
Romanticism: a style of art, literature, etc., during the late 18th and early 19th centuries that emphasized imagination and emotions. Romanticism was the standard of writing, or the writing style of the mid-19th century. Romanticism was based on the idea of the ideal story with an ideal ending. One could even say that Romanticism has almost fairytale endings. Ambrose Bierce was a Realist writer in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge”, 1891, was one of the first Realist novels. Realism: a style of art or literature that shows or describes people and things as they are in real life”. Due to the fact that “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” was one of the first Realist novels, it can be conceived that Ambrose Bierce wrote it with the intention to mock Romanticism by giving it a Romantic flair to show that the previous writing style is not true to life, as well as to portray the death of Romanticism. As Peyton Farquhar stands on a wooden board, extended a few feet off of the Owl Creek Bridge, with a noose around his neck, his thoughts begin the “Romantic flair.”
“He unclosed his eyes and saw again the water below him. “If I could free my hands,” he thought, “I might throw off the noose and spring into the stream. By diving I could evade the bullets and, swimming vigorously, reach the bank, take to the woods, and get away home…”(Baym 319)
What he thought would be a last thought, becomes a wild adventure when the rope snaps, sending him falling into the river below. Ideally, his captors are so flustered by this occurrence that their reaction time is excessively delayed…ideally. Romanticism is based upon the ideal, perfect occurrences. A Romantic story has a happy ending, usually. Whenever he hits the water, he is unconscious for a moment, but soon wakes up and releases himself from his bonds. By the time he reaches the water’s...
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