Stream of consciousness is a literary technique that focuses on the flow of thoughts within the minds of characters rather than objective linear narrative. The term was first described in The Principles of Psychology by William James.
Consciousness, then, does not appear to itself as chopped up in bits. Such words as "chain" or "train" do not describe it fitly... It is nothing jointed; it flows. A "river" or a "stream" are the metaphors by which it is most naturally described. In talking of it hereafter, let us call it the stream of thought, of consciousness, or of subjective life.
The short story "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" by Ambrose Bierce tells of a Confederate sympathizer during the American Civil War who has been captured by the Northern army and is condemned to be hanged as a spy. As he stands upon a railroad bridge with his hands tied behind his back and a rope around his neck, he thinks back to the circumstances that have brought him to this moment, and he even fantasizes...
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