Oedipus the King VS. "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" by Ambrose Bierce is a 19th Century mystery story
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Natasha Naidu English 2 Ms. Lori Fox May 19th 2005 Research Paper Oedipus the King VS. "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" by Ambrose Bierce is a 19th Century mystery story that is set at the time of the American Civil War (1861-1865), when the Slave owning Confederate States in the South engaged in conflict with the Federal Government of the USA. The story focuses on a character called Peyton Farquhar, who was about to be hung for trespassing the Owl Creek Bridge. The story ends with a curious twist in the plot. The main aspect of the story is set in Farquhar's mind, however while reading, at the first instinct, the reader is unsure (despite careful, hidden hints placed by Bierce) of this fact. Only at the end, when it is clearly stated that Farquhar is hanging lifelessly with a broken neck from the bridge that the reader will become conclusively aware of this facet. In Oedipus the King by Sophocles', it is a 5th century Greek tragedy play that is set at the time of major battle against the Persian navy also known as Golden Age. (Sophocles, 1880)
"Peyton Farquhar was dead; his body with a broken neck, swung gently from side to side beneath the timbers of the Owl Creek bridge" (Bierce). Cathy Davidson states, "Death is a cessation of the impression through the senses, and the pulling of the strings which move the appetites..." (Davidson 146). To what extent is Oedipus responsible for his own fate? In looking at the play Oedipus the King, I found several possibilities surrounding his fate. Firstly, one of the assumptions that can be drawn is that perhaps as destiny controls all fates, then Oedipus' character was created long before he was conceived. On the other hand, we could also say that perhaps Oedipus' horrific fate came about because of his character. The third possibility is that everything is inevitable - therefore no one ever has had any say in their own fate, let alone Oedipus. The first explanation to this question is the idea that destiny makes character. As destiny, supposedly in the Greek mindset, maps out all events before they occur, we can today assume with this logic that perhaps the components that "built" Oedipus' character were caused by fate. We know today that character is determined by biological factors and experience.
I believe Oedipus was a great tragic hero because he saved the towns life even though he ruined his own. His fate was tested through out the play and he chooses to deny it. Bierce has a unique style to pull the reader into the story. To name a few techniques, his complex illusions keep the audience in suspense, his detailed descriptions allow the reader to picture all aspects of the story and the dividing of the story into three separate parts help them to stay focused. In "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge", Farquhar's fantasy overtakes his reality leaving him with only one option on returning to reality death. Numerous critics argue the relevancy of the plot of "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge". The fantasy and reality connection between Farquhar's imagination and the hanging make the story. Bierce creates suspense and confusion through mind deception. Time manipulation, the fantasy realm, and the overlapping of dreams and reality equally deceive the reader and the protagonist. Yet to those of who accept fate, perhaps this could be the explanation. It is a completely personal decision, based on an individual interpretation. King Oedipus and Farquhar make their own decisions in their own way and lives with the consequences those brought. There is no one correct answer for interpretation in the 21st Century, in depends completely on individuals perception of the actuality of fate.
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