How Edgar Allan Poe’s Work Influenced Alfred Hitchcock’s Films

1. Introduction

Edgar Allen Poe is considered one of the most important authors in American history. His work has had a profound influence on American culture, especially in the field of suspense and horror. Many of Poe’s techniques were adopted by Alfred Hitchcock, who is widely considered the master of suspense. In this paper, I will discuss how Poe’s work influenced Hitchcock’s films and how Hitchcock used Poe’s techniques to create suspense and manipulate the attention of his audience.

2. Poe’s work and American culture

Poe was born in 1809 and died in 1849. He was an American author, poet, editor, and critic. His work was instrumental in the development of the Gothic genre in literature. Poe is also credited with inventing the detective story and popularizing the use of irony and satire in American literature (Wikipedia, “Edgar Allan Poe”).

Poe’s work was very popular during his lifetime and it continues to be popular today. His work has had a significant impact on American culture, especially in the realm of suspense and horror. Many of Poe’s stories, such as “The Tell-Tale Heart” and “The Cask of Amontillado,” are still read by people all over the world. These stories have been adapted into films, television shows, and plays. They have also inspired other authors and filmmakers.

3. Poe’s influence on Hitchcock

Hitchcock was born in 1899 and died in 1980. He was an English film director, producer, screenwriter, and editor. Hitchcock is widely considered one of the greatest filmmakers of all time. He directed over 50 films in a career that spanned more than five decades. Hitchcock’s films are characterized by their suspenseful plots and themes of manipulation and betrayal (Wikipedia, “Alfred Hitchcock”).

Hitchcock was greatly influenced by the work of Poe. In fact, many of Hitchcock’s films contain elements that are directly borrowed from Poe’s stories. For example, Hitchcock’s film “Rebecca” contains many similarities to Poe’s story “The Fall of the House of Usher.” Both stories feature a young woman who marries a man who is haunted by the death of his first wife. Both wives are named Rebecca and both die under mysterious circumstances. In both stories, the husband is driven to madness by his guilt over his wife’s death.

Hitchcock also borrowed elements from Poe’s stories “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” and “The Purloined Letter” for his film “Dial M for Murder.” In both stories, a woman is murdered and her husband is suspected of the crime. However, in “Dial M for Murder,” it is revealed that the husband hired someone to kill his wife so that he could collect on her life insurance policy. This plot twist was directly inspired by “The Purloined Letter.”

4. Hitchcock’s use of Poe’s techniques

Hitchcock was not only influenced by the plots of Poe’s stories but also by Poe’s techniques for creating suspense and manipulating the attention of his audience. For example, Hitchcock often used flashbacks to provide information about a character’s past that would help to explain their actions in the present. This technique was used extensively in “Psycho” as well as in other Hitchcock films such as “Vertigo” and “Rear Window.”

Hitchcock also borrowed Poe’s technique of using first-person narration. This technique allows the audience to experience the events of the story through the eyes of the protagonist. This makes the story more personal and creates a greater sense of suspense. Hitchcock used first-person narration in “Psycho” and “Rear Window.”

5. The role of the audience in Hitchcock’s films

Hitchcock was a master at manipulating his audience’s emotions. He often used suspenseful music to make the audience feel scared or anxious. He also used camera angles and editing techniques to control the way the audience perceived the events of the story. For example, in “Psycho,” Hitchcock uses very quick cuts between scenes to create a sense of disorientation and anxiety in the viewer.

Hitchcock also liked to play with the expectations of his audience. He would often give them information that would lead them to believe one thing was going to happen when in reality something completely different would occur. This was often done for shock value but it also served to keep the audience guessing and engaged in the story.

6. Conclusion

In conclusion, Poe’s work had a significant influence on Hitchcock’s films. Hitchcock borrowed elements from Poe’s stories and used Poe’s techniques to create suspense and manipulate the attention of his audience. The result was some of the most suspenseful and iconic films in American history.


Edgar Allen Poe's work influenced Hitchcock's films by providing a source of inspiration for his macabre and suspenseful plots.

Specific elements of Poe's stories and poems that can be seen in Hitchcock's films include the use of dark and foreboding settings, mysterious characters, and unexpected twists.

Hitchcock interpreted or adapted Poe's work for the screen by creating his own unique versions of Poe's stories, often with different endings or additional scenes not found in the original works.

Other filmmakers also drew inspiration from Poe, but Hitchcock is generally considered to be the most successful in translating Poe's work to the big screen.

The legacy of both Edgar Allen Poe and Alfred Hitchcock has been affected by their association with each other, as both are now widely recognized as masters of horror and suspense.