Circle Of Black Essay

1227 words - 5 pages

Ignoring the pain of his neck and the “circle of black” on his neck, Farquhar runs to his beloved wife. Just a few more steps and he would be in the arms of his love. In a flash Farquhar is dead, by the “circle of black”, underneath the Owl Creek Bridge. Peyton Farquhar, the main character of the historical short story, “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” written by Ambrose Bierce, is being hanged by the union army after being set up by the federal soldier. The reader is misled by Bierce to think that Farquhar escapes and survives. In reality Farquhar is being hanged and was imagining himself surviving. The author uses many subtle hints during Farquhar’s “escape” to show that. Using literary ...view middle of the document...

When it says “his brain was on fire, his heart, which had been fluttering faintly, gave a great leap, trying to force itself out at his mouth”, he is suffocating from the pressure of the rope causing his brain to hurt and his heart would try to beat harder in order to keep the body alive. If he was under water, the pain would have not been in his brain but in his lungs. Not only does the author use imagery of Farquhar’s pain to foreshadow the ending, he also uses his appearance too.
Towards the end of the story before the tragic ending, Bierce describes Farquhar’s appearance to foreshadow the image of Farquhar’s real fate. “His neck was in pain and lifting his hand to it found it horribly swollen. He knew that it had a circle of black where the rope had bruised it.” The “circle of black” is an example of imagery which makes the reader think that the black ring is a bruise not the rope itself. Many authors use “black” as the color of foreshadowing as Bierce is doing. Even in movie and shows, unknown objects, people, and even marks would be colored or shadowed as black to foreshadow that the object or person would be important as the story goes. “His eyes felt congested he could no longer close them. His tongue was swollen with thirst; he relieved its fever by thrusting it forward from between his teeth into the cold air.” Ambrose also describes Farquhar’s grotesque facial expression to reminiscent the reader of a hanged man. Although many do not know, if one is hanged as Farquhar is, the eyes of a hanged man would bulge out and the tongue would swell and stick out through their teeth. With imagery as a very important foreshadowing tool, Bierce also uses preternatural plot elements to foreshadow the true ending.
One of the first preternatural plot element in “An Occurrence on Owl Creek Bridge” is in the near beginning where Farquhar hears the “sharp, distinct, metallic” sound of his watch. “And now he became conscious of a new disturbance. Striking through the thought of his deaf ones was a sound which he could neither ignore nor understand, a sharp, distinct, metallic percussion like the stroke of a blacksmith’s hammer upon the anvil; it had the same ringing quality. He wondered what it was, and whether immeasurably distant or near by—it seemed both. Its recurrence was regular, but as slow as the tolling of a death knell. He awaited each new stroke with impatience and –he knew not why—apprehension. The intervals of...

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