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Keywords

Alfred Hitchcock, Edgar Allan Poe, Thomas De Quincey, Art, Murder, Rope, Psycho, North by Northwest, The Cask of Amontillado, Hop-Frog, Shadow of a Doubt, Strangers on a Train

Abstract

This paper examines the works of both Edgar Allan Poe and Alfred Hitchcock in light of Thomas De Quincey’s series of essays entitled “On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts.” In his essays, De Quincey presents murder as an art form that can be criticized and appreciated just as any other fine art. While De Quincey’s essays faced some negative reaction when they were originally published, both Edgar Allan Poe and Alfred Hitchcock seem to have found something worthwhile in De Quincey’s ideas about the art of murder; Poe and Hitchcock both present murder as an art form in their own respective mediums. A close reading of Poe’s and Hitchcock’s works reveals characters who display an appreciation for murder as an art form (referred to in this paper as “murder aficionados”) and who, through the use of humor, implicate the audience in an equal appreciation for murder. Poe and Hitchcock also use murder as a way to, as De Quincey says, “improve and humanize the hearts” of their characters by creating emotions. Examples are given from both Poe’s stories and Hitchcock’s films of ways in which their characters change and “improve” as a result of murder and murder attempts.