Study Guide

The Birds Man and the Natural World

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Man and the Natural World

Humans vs. nature (or human vs. critters) is an obvious theme of The Birds. The film is in some ways a natural-disaster film; it could be about a tidal wave or an earthquake or a hurricane. The natural world is fierce and harsh, and humans can't do much to tame it. But, people don't usually have to struggle against birds, and this is what makes the film so unsettling. Most of us have completely positive feelings about our little feathered friends and think of them as creatures that brighten our days with their cheerful song. They even help with the housework.

In his typical fashion, Hitchcock turns our expectations completely upside down. What's enjoyable and comforting is now threatening and terrifying.

Questions About Man and the Natural World

  1. How do the birds show humanity's limited understanding of the natural world?
  2. Would it be a happy ending if the humans defeated the birds? Why or why not?
  3. Does the film have supernatural overtones?

Chew on This

The Birds shows that the natural world is unpredictable and uncontrollable.

The Birds suggests that human attempts to control the natural world contribute to our own demise.

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