The Fine Line Between Fantasy And Reality

1211 words - 5 pages

Metafiction is a term given to 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 is a term used loosely across many genres of fictions. Using metafiction, to describe a works allows usage along a full spectrum of ideas. From this concept, many short stories, and other works of fiction have been produced. Authors like Ambrose Bierce, an innovator of experimental fiction, are highly criticized for taking on projects using this writing style. In one of his most famous works, "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge," Bierce developed a trademark for comparison in the metafiction genre. In the words of literary critic, Cathy Davidson, "Bierce has staked his claim as `the precursor of postmodern fiction.'" Bierce's short story creates intense drama in a small amount of space, leaving readers with many questions, and strongly placing itself into the metafiction genre. Often compared to the likes of Edgar Allen Poe, the close examination of time, the attention giving to mental fiction to avoid real life, and the blending of reality and fiction allow Bierce's work of fiction to be marked as timeless.

Bierce carefully divides the narrative into three parts, each part carefully intertwining, the close examination of time, the attention giving 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. By doing this, 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 (Gioia 106)." Unknown to the reader, this is one of many more attempts to put away death. The author attempts to make the reader question if the man is entrapped and has the ability to break free. Further, the author only details the man has committed a crime. What crime? The reader is now forced to read on due to the new mystery. 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. How slow it appeared to move! (Gioia 107)" The author manipulates the time to allow readers to question the trivial nature of the protagonist's thoughts and to pull the reader's attention away from the reality of the timeframe. Bierce allows Farquhar's stream of thoughts to tease the time. At the end of Part One, Bierce starts a dream sequence that will be picked up...

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