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A Fine Line Between Fantasy And Fiction

1933 words - 8 pages

A Fine Line Between Fantasy and Fiction

Metafiction defines fictional writing which self-consciously and
systematically draws attention to its status as an artifact in order
to pose questions about the relationship between fiction and reality
(Waugh 2). Metafiction, a term used loosely across many genres of
fictions, gives the idea of fiction as, concepts with the intention of
going beyond the familiar or presumed reality (Hembree 1). Using
metafiction to describe a works allows for usage along a full spectrum
of ideas. Metafiction provides the foundation for many short stories
and other works of fiction. Ambrose Bierce, a highly criticized
innovator of experimental fiction, uses aspects of metafiction
effectively in his writing projects. In one of his most famous works,
"An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge," Bierce uses metafictional
characteristics to create a measure of comparison for the genre. In
the words of literary critic Cathy Davidson, "Bierce has staked his
claim as 'the precursor of postmodern fiction.'" Bierce's short
stories create intense drama in a small amount of space, although
usually leaving readers with many questions, strongly placing his
works into the metafiction genre. Often compared to the likes of Edgar
Allen Poe, the close examination of time, the attention given to
mental fiction to avoid real life, and the blending of reality and
fiction allow Bierce's works of fiction, the annotation of classic.

Bierce carefully divides the narrative, "An Occurrence at Owl Creek
Bridge," into three parts. Each part carefully intertwines the aspects
of the close examination of time, the attention given to mental
fiction to avoid real life, and the blending of reality and fiction.
"An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" begins powerfully with an unnamed
protagonist. At this point, Bierce creates an atmosphere of mystery.
The author only describes the problematic situation of the character,
"The man's hands were behind his back, his wrists bound with cord. A
rope closely encircled his neck (Bierce 106)." The reader does not
know it yet, but the situation alludes to death. The author attempts
to initiate the reader to question the man's entrapment and his
ability to break away. Further, the author only details the man has
committed a crime. What crime? Bierce forces the reader to continue
through curiosity. The author sets no preliminaries for the actions
taking place. Bierce firmly plants the reader inside the story here.
During Part One the author also shows intense time distortion.
Literary critic Cathy Davidson states, "…it is a speculation on the
nature of time and the nature of the abnormal psychology…(Davidson
196)." The author introduces minor thoughts of the protagonist, "…a
piece of driftwood caught his attention and his eyes followed it down
the current....

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