"It Had to Be Murder" and Other Stories

A Critique of Escapism in “It Had to Be Murder” and "Rear Window" College

Both “It Had to Be Murder”, written by Cornell Woolrich, and Rear Window, the film directed by Alfred Hitchcock based on the book, tell a strange tale of a nosy protagonist in a story about the occasionally blurred line between fantasy and reality. The protagonists’ lives appear to revolve around voyeuristic behaviors that seem to make up the majority of their personalities as they seek to immerse themselves in the lives of their neighbors, observing the individual inhabitants and noting their activities. Both Woolrich and Hitchcock use the voyeurism of the protagonist to criticize society for their eagerness to accept a false reality.

“I didn’t know their names.” This statement immediately introduces the protagonist of “It Had to Be Murder” with a hook that draws reads in from the start. The first person voice that the story is written in is perfect for luring readers deeper into the mind of the solitary Hal Jefferies, a man with apparently no purpose in life, other than to invade the privacy of his neighbors with his gaze. The transitions from scene to scene are vague and littered with Jefferies’ personal thoughts and feelings, in a form akin to stream of consciousness. Rear Window is filmed in a manner similar to what could...

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