Master of Suspense: A Critical Analysis of How Alfred Hitchcock Creates Suspense in Psycho
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This dissertation will critically assess how Alfred Hitchcock creates suspense in his 1960 suspenseful horror film Psycho. Drawing from a range of different schools of thought, this study will test the boundaries of a number of different theoretical frameworks and their relevancy in regards to the formulation of suspense. Initially, this study will examine the components involved in the initial stages of the formulation of suspense. With reference to Wulff’s theory of anticipation and narrative cataphora, an analysis is performed that assesses Hitchcock’s use of promotional material and his construction of misé en scene. Citing key moments within the text, the opening stages of this study examines how Hitchcock uses narrative and cinematic ‘triggers’ to create anticipation within the response of the spectator. Furthermore, this dissertation will draw from a range of psychological concepts that account for the way in which audiences respond to suspense. By way of textual analysis, it will apply these theories to the text and seek to evaluate how they are heightened or diminished at pivotal moments of the diagesis. Finally, it will conclude by examining how Hitchcock uses narrative frameworks to release the audience from a range of emotions including anxiety and tension. Discussing the pleasures that the spectator derives from the text, it will pay particularly attention to the aspects of violence and the affect it has on the release of suspense.
BA (Hons) English and Contemporary Media
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