Aspects of Time and Pace in Poe's "The Mask of the Red Death" and Bierce's "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge"


Seminar Paper, 2006

8 Pages, Grade: 2,0


Excerpt

Inhalt

1. A definition of the term ‘short story’

2. Short Summaries of “The Masque of the Red Death” and “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge”
2.1 “The Masque of the Red Death” by E. A. Poe
2.2 “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” by A. Bierce

3. ‘Time and pace’: Terminology

4. Aspects of time and pace in the selected stories
4.1 Time and pace in “The Masque of the Red Death”
4.2 Time and pace in “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge”

5. Literature Consulted

1. A definition of the term ‘short story’

The literary form ‚short story’ is a sub-category of the classical literary form ‚epic’ and ‘prose’ respectively. The latter is the more frequent term today. (cf. Klarer 2004: 3) Short stories had their breakthrough in the nineteenth century when the first magazines had published them. Those were seen as “an ideal medium for the publication of this prose genre of limited volume”. (Klarer 2004: 13)

This leads to the first distinguishing feature which is typical of short stories: The length in comparison with novels. It would be wrong to claim that short stories are always short (cf. the chosen examples’ discourse time in 4.), but a short story does not achieve the length of a novel and can be read all at once.

Thus, there is a special structure in the composition of the text. The short story achieves the climax rather fast due to the relative briefness of the text. Understanding is ensured by special techniques, e.g. flashbacks, which introduce the preliminary elements so that the reader can connect the past of the characters with the events presented in the story. Other features are the sudden beginning of the text which enables the rapid progression to the point of climax and – frequently but not always given – an open ending.

The story presents an event in the protagonist’s life which is not trivial at all and which changes his or her life dramatically. The short story is told out of one person’s point of view – there is usually no change of narrative perspectives. As the story focuses on one person’s life, other characters are not presented in great detail.

2. Short Summaries of “The Masque of the Red Death” and “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge”

2.1 “The Masque of the Red Death” by E. A. Poe

A terrible plague named the “Red Death” scares the country and carries off a large number of people. Prince Prospero, the protagonist of Poe’s story, invites many guests to his castle in order to escape from the lethal disease. Apparently, the events go according to the plan and the masked crowd celebrates hilariously. They dance little by little through seven rooms of which every single one is decorated in a unique way. Only the hourly striking of the ebony clock which is located in the last room, the black one, creates a strange atmosphere among the dancers: They stand still, seem to be nervous or weak and the musicians stop playing. After the clock has ended striking, the masquerade goes on as if nothing had happened.

This revel suddenly ends when some guests see an unknown masked person standing in the black room. Prince Prospero feels offended since the person wears a disgusting mask which resembles to the victims’ faces having died from the “Red Death”. He runs towards the man and wants to kill him, but suddenly the prince collapses deadly. The guests realize that the figure is not a real person, but the “Read Death” itself and finally, everyone is killed. The prince’s plan failed: No one can escape death – no matter how hard he or she tries. (cf. Poe 1842)

2.2 “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” by A. Bierce

The story begins with the detailed description of the situation on a bridge: A man having a rope around his neck stands on a plank and sees the rushing water under his feet. The plank is only held steady by soldiers who stand on its sides. An officer leads the execution and tells the soldier to step aside.

In the second paragraph, the readers are told about the protagonist, a planter called Peyton Farquhar, and the preliminary elements that lead to the execution: Farquhar is a slave owner and was hindered to be a soldier. Devoted to the Confederate Army, he hopes for his chance to intervene one day. This possibility seems to be come when a passing soldier tells him about the Northern Army who has reached Owl Creek Bridge. As Farquhar asks the man how far it is to this bridge, it becomes clear that the planter sees his chance to support “his” army. This was what the other man expected: In reality, he is a soldier of the Northern Army and the planter got caught in a trap.

The third paragraph leads the readers back to the original events. Farquhar is hanged, but by a fluke, the rope is torn apart and he can escape. He swims wildly and successes in escaping from the soldiers’ bullets. Finally, he can go ashore and the soldiers have lost his track. He travels all day and night while feeling awful pain and he seems to have fallen asleep while walking. Despite this suffering he reaches his home and sees his wife coming towards him. In the same moment when he wants to run towards her, he feels a terrible blow in his neck, sees a blinding light and finally, everything’s dark.

Farquhar is dead; his escape was just a creation in his mind during the seconds before he died. (cf. Bierce 1891)

[...]

Excerpt out of 8 pages

Details

Title
Aspects of Time and Pace in Poe's "The Mask of the Red Death" and Bierce's "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge"
College
Karlsruhe University of Education
Grade
2,0
Author
Year
2006
Pages
8
Catalog Number
V134284
ISBN (eBook)
9783640417339
File size
443 KB
Language
English
Notes
Nach einer Definition der 'short story' und der Einführung der "literary terms" (Quelle: Klarer 2004) erfolgt die Analyse von "Time and Pace" in den beiden oben genannten Titeln. Kurz und knapp gehalten als Überblick.
Tags
Englisch, Poe, Bierce, Time and Pace, Time, American, short story, The Mask of the Red Death, An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge, English, literature, literary analysis, Literatur, amerikanische Literatur
Quote paper
Eveline Reiß (Author), 2006, Aspects of Time and Pace in Poe's "The Mask of the Red Death" and Bierce's "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge", Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/134284

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