Comparison of Edgar Allan Poe's "The Pit and the Pendulum" with Ambrose Bierce's "Occurance at Owl Creek Bridge"

Essay by buckmaster411University, Bachelor's January 2006

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Godlessness, faithlessness, hopelessness are all common qualities in which we find when talking about the absurd. The absurd, which is commonly characterized as being dark and dreary period, brings about two of the most famous authors in all of literature; Edgar Allan Poe and Ambrose Bierce. These two authors still today twist the minds of people forcing them to take a different perspective on life and view it in a way in which people are not accustomed. To view the dark side of life in which there is no hope for mankind and where humans learn that their true purpose on this planet has no meaning or significance at all. It is during this absurd era, when two of the most famous short stories in all of literature were written, The Pit and the Pendulum and The Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge. Both of these stories express the darker side of life and throughout this paper will be compared and contrasted in order to better understand the meaning of what is meant by the absurd.

When comparing and contrasting two stories, we must examine the elements which make up a short story such as the theme, characterization, and setting.

In comparing these two stories, we find a significant theme involving the great complexity of the world and how we as humans are inadequate to understand it. Life at times can be unfair in its ways and can do horrible things to us for reasons which cannot be unexplained. This theme is shown in both novels by the summoning of two men, who appear to be decent in character, to their deaths because of unfair reasons. We as readers are then forced to ask the question: "Why are these good men being put to death"? The answer to this question,