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“It all depends on how we look at things, and not how they are in themselves.”
Much discussion has been given to the function of the main character’s perspective, what the Dramatica theory of story would consider the influence character and the argument made between their clashing perspectives (the two-hander approach or relationship throughline) – but there’s also a fourth realm that looks at a story, what Dramatica considers the Objective or Overall Story throughline, that represents a dispassionate view of a story that sees characters by their archetypal functions (protagonist, antagonist, guardian, etc.) The theory book itself is available online for free here and is well worth reading, particularly for its examination of the different perspectives and the analogy of story as a battlefield – in which in this particular case, the Objective view is likened to a General on a hill overlooking the battle (story) unfold, seeing various strategies unfold. This perspective, accompanied with the other three more intimate looks, gives the audience a complete view of the story and, as we’ll examine with Alfred Hitchcock’s North By Northwest, allows the audience an opportunity to become all the more engaged through the use of dramatic irony.
A literary device, dramatic irony is where an audience is given a piece of information that at least one of the characters in the story is unaware of, resulting in the audience knowing more than one of the characters and placing them one step ahead “in the story.” This, in turn, often leads to suspense and ironic humor (often through dialogue), ultimately creating anticipation for the viewer and leaving them wanting to know what happens next.
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