chapter  10
10 Pages

Suspense and Disorientation: Two Poles of Emotionally Charged Literary Uncertainty

WithGerald C. Cupchik

We bring to aesthetic episodes knowledge from everyday life without which the thoughts, feelings, and actions of protagonists would not be meaningful. Of course, literary and film materials challenge us by restructuring events in original ways and concealing information from us. These transformations induce states of uncertainty that might be divided into two types. One kind of uncertainty concerns predictions regarding future events, be they the experiences of characters or the outcomes of their actions. A second kind of uncertainty concerns the understanding of ongoing events, which may require the discovery of facts and conditions concealed from us by the author. The contrast between prediction and understanding and the emotions that accompany these states of uncertainty are central to this chapter.