Ambrose Bierce Research Paper

Satan is indicted in (1667) as intractably "self-roll'd"; he cannot see beyond himself, a failure that darkens all of hell.Poe translates that hell of narcissism to a pitch-black apartment in which the speaker of "The Tell-Tale Heart" (1843) murders his landlord, whose "evil eye" has "vexed” him. Indeed, having exploded in a confession to the police, the convict now adjures his audience to "Hearken![1] In "Owl Creek Bridge," the protagonist's self-aggrandizing narrative appears, at first, to be perfectly realistic and reasonable. Genteel southern ideals about noble soldiering -- "the larger life of the soldier, the opportunity for distinction" -- have loomed over Farquhar like father and judge.[2] We know Poe's speaker to be mad from the start, but Farquhar seems only to have bitten off more than he could chew -- trying to burn down a bridge used by Union troops -- so we forgive him for his error and indulge his final delusion. In fact, subtly though not always discreetly, he is hanging him for it. [3] They have been the vexing eye upon him, despite the absence of any condescension or condemnation from his community.The author's innuendo soon verges on mockery: when the soldier requests water at the house, Mrs.

The "thumbnail burlesque of martial rhetoric," as F. Logan describes Farquhar's delusory heroics, is established almost from the beginning of the story.

In a bit of narrative reflexivity, Bierce's description of the man mirrors Farquhar's own warring consciousness: praise and sympathy -- Farquhar "was at heart a soldier" -- mixes uneasily with cryptically subversive commentary: "Circumstances of an imperious nature" had kept Farquhar, a well-to-do, politically-connected plantation owner, out of the war, apart from the "gallant" actions of soldiers, immobilized by "inglorious" and "humble" spectating (307).

What "imperious" circumstances might prevent a wealthy politician from enlisting?

When Farquhar is hanged, his senses, like those of Poe's narrator, expand and deepen to become "preternaturally keen and alert"; they are "exalted and refined," recording phenomena "never before perceived" (309).

Farquhar notes the minutest sensuous details of his surroundings and acquires astounding abilities, dodging and deflecting bullets ("Some of them touched him on the face and hands, then fell away" [311]), shrewdly calculating the timing and trajectory of cannon fire, and noting arcane military tactics.

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