LITERATURE & WRITING: The 3-Sided Square Table and The 4th Wall

As a prelude to a posting on Blindness regarding reality and symbolism, this idea popped into my head and since it didn't quite relate, I'm posting it here.

The Fourth Wall* in literature and any artistic expression–particularly drama–is the barrier between the storyworld and the reader or audience. It's a fascinating concept that separates the spectator from the action and yet even more interesting when it is broken by the story to invite the audience in.

Something that's bothered me for years in television sitcoms is the family meal scenario where all members of the family are spread around the table–no matter what number–except for the side facing the viewer. I always thought this was rather silly and unreal until I realized that situation comedies usually are performed live, play-style, in front of an audience. To place someone on this side of the table would necessarily require an actor to have his back to the audience. I'm sure that the audience doesn't realize the effect, and yet watching this on the TV, when we're used to camera angles that can achieve a balance around the table rather than a set stage static viewpoint, it looks odd and unreal.

The 3-sided table then, is a subtle invitation to the audience by acknowledging its existence outside of the storyworld, thus breaking that barrier of the fourth wall.

*Note: Notice that a Spinning post is Reference #5 in Wikipedia and I didn't place it there.

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2 Responses to LITERATURE & WRITING: The 3-Sided Square Table and The 4th Wall

  1. ersinghaus says:

    God I love this weblog.

  2. susan says:

    I figured that either the 3-sided table or the metaphorical shit post might catch your eye. Literature can be such fun for the imagination and pondering of untraveled paths, eh?

    Thanks for being one of the nice and competent folk.

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