The Theme of Reality and Illusion in the Novels an Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge and Hurt Hawks
What Is Reality? In “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” the story takes place during the Civil War era and the protagonist is named Peyton Farquhar; he is a man who lives in the south and is confederate supporter who owns an immense quantity of land. We then learn that Farquhar becomes a bit more complex when we discover that he exhibits a very huge gap between who he is and an inflated version of he wants to be. Farquhar can be best compared to the Hawk in the poem, “Hurt Hawks” by Robinson Jeffers. In this poem there is a hawk that is mentioned heavily all the way through but the hawk is being described in two ways; the representativeness of it being sick, injured, etc. and the other he is mentioned as full of life, flying freely up in the heavens, but that specific version of the hawk is not a reality but a dream that the original hawk desires to feel like again.
Ambrose Bierce’s story “An occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” and Robinson Jeffers, “Hurt Hawks” both use the blurred line amongst illusion, reality and the theme of freedom and confinement can lead to disastrous consequences. The concept of deciphering between actuality and fantasy or better yet illusion, very much work together in the telling of “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge,” But, it is until the end of the tale that we discover that there was a severe distinction between the two. During the climax of the telling we are visualizing everything going well for Farquhar then abruptly, speaker began to state, “He moves to embrace her but feels a sharp blow on the back of his neck and sees a blinding white light all about him. Then silence and darkness engulf him. Farquhar is dead”. Very self-explanatory on what just occurred, we discover that what we the readers were being spoon fed was a warped truth of what Farquhar created out of desperation. This can be represented in the poem of “Hart Hawks” as well, at first glance readers may digest this poem as a telling of two separate hawks. One of the hawks is described to be injured from one of its wings and appears to have blood clotting on its shoulder, definitely in its last few days of living. In the separate half of the poem, the Hawk is said to be strong and healthy. Thus creating the idea that this story is about two separate birds, but the author gives us a big hint onto what is really going on. He stated, “At night he remembers freedom and flies in a dream, the dawns ruin it”. Those stanzas where we are reading the Hawk described as strong are actually the Hawk reliving his glory days in his dreams, remembering how great life use to be. Both the Hawk and Farquhar are both victims of not being able to grasp what realism is and what isn’t. To illustrate more similarities between the Hawk and Peyton Farquhar they are both a victim to theme of freedom and confinement. For example, Peyton Farquhar frantically desires freedom from his commitments so he creates a fake altered truth to escape his real life problems. In the state of his demise he stated, “To die of hanging at the bottom of a river! — the idea seemed to him ludicrous”.
Demise for Farquhar’s situation isn’t just terrifying and agonizing, yet in addition hinders to be to some degree entertaining. Farquhar’s demise is absolutely guaranteed, men are waiting at the place of his hanging armed to the neck just in case he decides to run, yet despite everything he envisions the likelihood of breaking free and the possibility of surviving and that may be the craziest thing he could have imagined. Having the ability of flight and soaring through the skies is the very carbon copy of freedom, being able to soar in all that open air, and to feel the wind kissing your wings as you are gliding through the sky. This was how the Hawk in “Hurt Hawks” coped with his desperate sad reality of him not being able to soar amongst the heavens any longer, he would escape into his dreams but would get slapped in the face with reality. But this was paying to be more difficult than imagined, the speaker sees the bird suffering noticing he wasn’t getting better so he then states, “We had fed him for six weeks, I gave him freedom, He wandered over the foreland hill and returned in the evening”. When an animal like the hawk who is a poster child for freedom gets injured and loses that gift, what can you give them to help their situation? Give them the freedom they desire and politely put them out of their suffering so he can be free to roam for eternity. The similarities are uncanny between the Hawk and Farquhar but they do not stop there, in fact if you look a little bit closer you can see that their previous traits all lead to something that they both regretfully had to share as well. They both remorsefully had to be encountered with very disastrous consequences, death.
Upon the reading of “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” we realize that Farquhar has been hung and passed on when he starts describing a heaven like place, the speaker began to illustrate “He dug his fingers into the sand, threw it over himself in handfuls and audibly blessed it. It looked like diamonds, rubies, emeralds; he could think of nothing beautiful which it did not resemble. The trees upon the bank were giant garden plants; he noted a definite order in their arrangement, inhaled the fragrance of their blooms. A strange roseate light shone through the spaces among their trunks and the wind made in their branches the music of Aeolian harps. He had not wish to perfect his escape — he was content to remain in that enchanting spot until retaken. “
Farquhar doesn’t perceive this place to be anything he knows, the music and attractive plant life all lead to the assumption of a heaven like place. As for the Hawk in “Hurt Hawks” we discover the birds passing of the real world to the next when the speaker states, “but what Soared: the fierce rush: the night-herons by the flooded river cried fear at its rising Before it was quite unsheathed from reality”. This was used to symbolize the Hawk being freed from his dying body and gets to fulfill his true wishes of flying forever.
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