Romanticism Versus Realism
Romanticism, an artistic movement, flourished in America with its unique artistic style, use of creativity and imagination, and idealization of the setting or characters. Equally as popular, realism described life objectively and without idealization. These two movements were demonstrated in various works of literature. Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Pit and the Pendulum” is a work of romanticism as opposed to Ambrose Bierce’s “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” which is a work of realism.
Poe’s “The Pit and the Pendulum” is a short story focused on the dark atmosphere of a prisoner aptured by the Spanish Inquisition. In the beginning of the story, Poe sets the mood with foreboding sentences, allowing the reader to feel the hopelessness and despair of the protagonist: “l was sick”sick unto death with that long agony… ‘ felt my senses leaving me. The sentence”the dread sentence of death”was the last of distinct accentuation which reached my ears” (292). The language illustrated in the first few sentences The setting in Poe’s story is overstated with its gothic-like dungeon. After hat, the sound of the inquisitorial voices seemed merged in one dreamy indeterminate hum… I saw the lips of the black-robed Judges. They appeared to me white”whiter than the sheet upon which I trace these words”and thin even to grotesqueness… ” In this excerpt, Poe tell of the man’s condemnation at the hand of these Judges. Through his description, Poe is able to illustrate the horror of the situation through the description of the Judges. The black they wear and their pale complexion can represent death.
As the narrator awakens in the dark, disgusting prison, the mystery of the story is illustrated. “The vibration of the pendulum was at right angles to my length. I saw that the screscent was designed to cross the region of my heart. It would fray the serge of my robe”it would return and reapeat its operation”again”and again… Down”steadily down it crept… Down”certainly, relentlessly down… Down”still unceasingly”still inevitably down! … l slid from the embrace of the bandage and beyond the reach of the scimitar.
For the moment, as least, I was free. ” At this point in the story, the suspense is at its peak. The protagonist is about to meet his imminent death, Similar to other romantic works of literature, the story often ends with “happily ever after”. Poe’s story is no exception. As the story reaches its final paragraphs, the protagonist is at the brink of his death when a hand catches him: “l felt that I tottered upon the brink”I averted my eyes… An outstretched arm caught my own as I fell. , fainting into the abyss. It was that of General Lassale.
The French army had entered Toledo. The Inquisition was in the hands of its enemies” (304). He is saved. “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” can be easily identified as a work of realism. Rather than an idealized character, Peyton Fraguhar resembles an average person, a common characteristic of realism. Bierce also “A man stood upon a railroad bridge in northern Alabama… A rope closely encircled his neck… Some loose boards laid upon the sleepers supporting the metals of the railway supplied a footing for him and his executioners…
Immediately, Bierce begins to establish the setting in the beginning of the story as realistic. As opposed to Poe’s dark, gothic-like setting, Bierce’s context is relatively normal. “Peyton Farquhar was dead; his body, with a broken neck, swung gently from side to side beneat n the timbers ot the Owl Creek bridge . ” The basic ideas ot romanticism are exemplified in Poe’s short story, “The Pit and the Pendelum”. Likewise, the basic ideas of realism are exemplified in Bierce’s “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge. “