Reality, Can It Be?

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Anyone who has ever read "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" will not soon forget. The storyline creates fantasy with verbal irony, dramatic irony, and irony of situation. The story is brilliantly written and full of suspense; with the superior use of character and the technique in the narrative flows together to produce irony with the intention to provoke surprise. This story is told with emotional realism, but irony in situation ending secures it vividly into the reader's mind. Verbal irony is evident in the title “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge”, the story is about a hanging and the title gives the meaning of just an incident thus robbing the hanging of its significance. Another occasion where verbal irony is evident is when Peyton Farquhar states “Suppose a man—a civilian and student of hanging—should elude the picket post and perhaps get the better of the sentinel.” “As Berkove accurately notes, there are limited ways to acquire knowledge of hanging:
‘A hangman, perhaps, might be called a student of hanging, but it is secondhand study. The only real student of hanging that is possible is someone who is being hanged. Only he can study it firsthand, and only he knows exactly, what it is’” (Bierce 11).
The statement being a student of hanging by Peyton referred that he was a hangman but in reality he is the one that is hanged. Hanging is not the outcome Mr. Farquhar had in mind. There are some examples of dramatic irony in “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge”. For example, Peyton Farquhar dreams of greater glory on the battlefield, rather than from the more "humble" duty of spying for the Confederacy (Bierce 71). Farquhar is deceived by the Southern soldier who is actually a Union spy and he is hung from the same bridge he is trying to burn. Once again, this is not the outcome that Peyton had in mind. The story “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” starts with Peyton Farquhar awaiting hanging. During this time Peyton is desperately holding on to time



Bibliography: Bierce, Ambrose. "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge". Ed. Edgar V. Roberts.Literature:An Introduction to Reading and Writing. Fourth Compact Edition. Upper Saddle River: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2008.70-75. Bierce, Ambrose. "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge." Berkove, Lawrence I. "‘An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge’: Nothing Better Exits" A Prescrition for Adversity: The Moral Art of Ambrose Bierce. Ohio State UP, 2002. 11.

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