Perspective Series: #4 Breaking the fourth wall

Perspective Series: #4 Breaking the fourth wall

Have you ever had one of the main characters address you directly in a book or a film?

The Breaking the Fourth Wall technique, in addition to others of our “Perspective series“, is used by authors and directors to engage and surprise the audience.

What does “Breaking the Fourth Wall” mean?

The concept of Breaking the Fourth Wall was first mentioned in Denis Diderot’s essay ‘De la po├ęsie dramatique’ in 1758. Diderot explains that this technique was used in the theatre. It aimed to make the actors act more realistically, forgetting the audience’s presence.

In other words, the Fourth Wall is an expression indicating an “imaginary wall” through which the audience observes the action taking place in the narrative. This wall is usually the element that separates the reader, or the spectator, from the story. In some cases, however, this wall can be broken down.

The audience follows a narrative involved but knows that everything they are reading is pure invention until one of the characters starts to address the readers directly with reflections or considerations about what is happening.

At this point, the audience is thus directly involved in the narrative.

Breaking the Fourth Wall: what is the purpose?

When a character addresses the audience directly creates The Breaking of the Fourth Wall. This reminds the audience that what they are seeing or reading is fiction. At the same time makes them feel more involved in the story.

Many authors have used this perspective. This technique forces the audience to see the narrative in a different light and to watch actively.

Among these authors, we can mention Bertold Brecht. He deliberately broke the Fourth Wall to make the audience think more critically.

Luigi Pirandello also used this particular technique in ‘Six Characters in Search of an Author‘. The characters move beyond the stage space and act in the middle of the stall.

Some examples of Breaking the Fourth Wall from the world of cinema

A relatively recent example of a film using this perspective is Martin Scorsese‘s ‘The Wolf of Wall Street‘.
Leonardo DiCaprio plays Jordan Belfort. He often addresses the audience while looking at the camera to comment on the unfolding events.

The same technique is used in another Scorsese film, ‘The Goodfellas‘. Ray Liotta, plays a character who provides the narration of the story. In the meantime, he explains to the audience how he feels, what is happening, and his thoughts.

A fourth wall break inside a fourth wall break? That’s like… sixteen walls

Wade Wilson- Deadpool

Where to start when writing a novel?

To write a story, you first need to have the plot and the characters in mind.

But this is not enough to create a compelling story.

You need to know what elements to include, what techniques to use, and what tone to write in.

bibisco gives you lots of advice on storytelling techniques and the elements to use in a story. Moreover, its innovative novel writing software helps you write the story effortlessly, guiding you step by step.

Perspective Series: #4 Breaking the Fourth Wall - bibisco's project explorer - bibisco blog | useful resources by your novel writing software
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Conclusions

Breaking the Fourth Wall is a technique used in various fields, from television to novels and plays.

The aim is to surprise the audience, who suddenly find themselves directly involved and challenged by one of the characters.

Usually, a narrator inside the story addresses the reader to comment and express their emotions and thoughts.

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