“Rosebud” and the “Glass Ball” Two Tricks to the Myth-Making of Citizen Kane

Paula Damasceno de Oliveira


This paper analyses, compares and contrasts Citizen Kane's two diegetic elements: “Rosebud” and the "Glass Ball," and locates them as the main signs that build the system Orson Welles created in his first feature film. In the first scene of the film, before the introduction of the “Rosebud” idea, the "Glass Ball" is presented only and exclusively to the us the extra diegetic audience (us, the viewers). The difference of to whom the first and the former are presented, and the sequence in which they are presented, was what guided me to pursue my research. I applied semiotics, cultural studies and film theory to sustain and reinforce the argument that Orson Welles has used the skills he had developed as an amateur magician to create the myth of Charles Foster Kane to the diegetic audience (the characters within the film) and the myth of Citizen Kane, to the extra diegeitc audience (us, the viewers). Moreover, I argue that "Rosebud" and the"Glass Ball" are interdependent signs that form a code to mislead and misguide both diegetic and extra diegeitc audience to an elusive search for meaning.


Rosebud, Glass Ball, Glass Globe, Orson Welles, Magic Trick

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