Critical Analysis Essay of The Boarded Window by Ambrose Bierce
Ambrose Bierce was an American writer famous for his writing prowess in terms of editorials, essays and short stories. The Boarded Window was published 1909 along with Bierce’s other literary works. Bierce was able to blend the element of fear with a pinch of mystic.
The unnamed narrator started with a vivid depiction of the time and place of the story’s settings. The story took place in 1830 in a virgin forest somewhere in Cincinnati. There lived in a house of log deep in the forest a man named Murlock. The marks of time were clearly shown on his face and physique. He should be 50 but apparently he could pass for a 77 year old. Trading animal skin became his source of living. It was told that he died of natural cause. He was buried right beside his wife’s grave near the cabin.
However, the untold story between Murlock and his wife was made known by the narrator’s grandfather. A younger Murlock, equipped with only an ax and a rifle, built his cabin. The little log house had a chimney made of sticks, flat sheet of wood for its roofs and a single door located directly opposite a window. The cabin has been the witness to Murlock’s married life and later widowed life.
One time, when Murlock came home from hunting, he found his wife with high fever. Considering that there is no physician and neighbors nearby, he was forced to nurse for his wife but to no avail. He can only do much.
Following the tradition of the dead, Murlock prepared his wife for burial – fixed her hair and making the final details. Though left with the thought of being alone, not a single tear show. However, his entire being is in a state of shock and with a feeling of restlessness. It was at this state that Murlock decided to place his arms on the table and dropped his face on it eventually placing him in a deeper slumber as the night draws darker. Somewhere out, howling was heard which he ignored.
Murlock felt something move the table and heard some soft footsteps. He was pushed by an unseen body that created in a scuffle. He tried to reach for a flash and rifle amidst the darkness.
To his surprise the sight of a beast startled him whose teeth was locked on his dead wife’s neck and is dragging her towards the open window. The flash and the loaded rifle frightened the panther abandoning the dead body behind.
The window, situated directly the cabin’s door, which was once a symbol of a free-flowing air for the cabin was now closed hindering beasts and the likes access.
An analogy on the story’s ending, the texts connote irony of the dead. The line ‘the hands were tightly clenched’ and ‘Between the teeth was a fragment of the animal’s ear,’ will give readers the idea that all the while, the supposed dead woman was still alive. The scuffle was not only between Murlock and the creature.
It is also important to note that despite his lost, Murlock was not able to cry a single drop. Could there be something within the relationship that the grandfather’s narrator failed to disclose?
Somewhere along could the issue on safety be the only reason why Murlock permanently shut the window – the boarded window.