Representation Of Woman In Hitchcocks Film Film Studies Essay

Modified: 1st Jan 2015
Wordcount: 1559 words

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In this essay, Modleski took a very negative look at the representation of woman in Hitchcock’s film. Modleski argues that sexual violence was the general feminist view of ‘blackmail’. First, Modleski pointed out that the film could be seen as a ‘set-up’ of the woman,’ who began the film by flirtatiously laughing at another man’s joke and at the end becoming somebody’s joke. And this woman occupies the place that ‘Freud assigned to women in the structure of the obscene joke: the place of the object between two male subjects. For supporting this idea, She employed Helene Cixous , Laura Mulvey, Maurice Yacowar’s main idea in feminist theory to examine the joke and laughter function in the film. Second, she argued people could find great pleasure from viewing through anger which had long been denied, therefore Hitchcock was obsessed with exploring the psyches for tormented women in his film. She suggested because the film showed a problem of women and the patriarchal law, people could very easily to pay the sympathy for and identify the female outlaw. When she mentions Doane’s point of view on denial of pleasure to the female spectator, I hope she could expand the idea more. Because I was confused about the point she made here.

Tania Modleski , The Women Who Knew Too Much , ‘The master’s dollhouse: rear window’. Routledge; 2 edition, 2005

‘The master’s dollhouse: rear window’

In this essay, Modleski pointed out that the main critical approach for ‘rear window’ was voyeurism and chronicle of Jeff’s sexual maturing. Moreover, she use Mulvey’s theory in ‘visual pleasure and narrative cinema’ to examined Jeff’s fear for Lisa’s success as a woman in film. She also compared different view form Lisa’s and Jeff’s of the neighbours. She also noticed that when the film progressed, Jeff’s point of view became both him and Lisa’s. She suggested that the function female image in film was viewing by male spectator. rear window indicated that Jean-Louis Baudry’s argument ‘to be characteristic of the cinematic apparatus as a whole -and in particular of projection -was also true at the level of narrative, which function as masculine fantasy projected onto the body of woman’. ‘All critics agree the film was about the power the man gaze. Every point of view she made was relevant.


Mandy Merck, the Sexual Subject: A “Screen” Reader in Sexuality,”Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema” Routledge; 1 edition,1992

“Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema”

Laura Mulvey’ essay not only has a particular place in the feminist film theory, but also was important in terms of defining spectatorship from the psychoanalytical view point .In the essay, Mulvey point out that passive role of women in cinema provided visual pleasure for the male audience and Freud’s psychoanalytic theory was the key point to understand how female sexual objectification was created through the combination of the patriarchal order of society, and ‘looking’ in itself as a pleasurable act of voyeurism. Furthermore Mulvey used vertigo and rear window as example to identified three “looks” or perspectives that occur in film which serve to sexually objectify women. However, I found that the essay was very hard to follow. The more I read the more I was confused. And I though it may because she exploited her theory with many people’s idea in once with less example.


Barbara Creed, the Monstrous-Feminine: Film, Feminism, Psychoanalysis, Routledge, 1993

Kristeva, femininity and abjection

In this essay, Barbara Creed rewrote some main idea of Kristeva in Powers of Horror .Barbara Creed pointed out Julia Kristeva provided us an analysis of the representation of woman as monstrous in horror films in Powers of Horror. She defined abjection within society, separating human from non-human, whereby abjection is first recognised then excluded. She argued that the abject could be experienced in a variety of ways, such as bodily functions, including food loathing and the eating of human flesh. the ways abjection was illustrated in horror film into three parts, the first being images such as corpses, mutilation, bodily waste; secondly, the notion of a border, the crossing of which is seen as abject, monstrous, separating human from inhuman such as man from beast, and finally, seeing the maternal figure as abject . Kristeva’s argument of abject was historically cleansed through religion, its breakdown has lead to this art taking on this role, the article finishes in the same vein as it started, explaining that the abject is ambiguous, both repelling and attracting. She attempted to give people a brief and clean idea what the abject was and how it work.


Tania Modleski , The Women Who Knew Too Much , ‘Rituals of defilement: frenzy’ Routledge; 2 edition, 2005

In this essay , Modleski identified Hitchcock’s ‘ambivalent toward feminine’ was fear by using psychoanalytic theory from Lacanian, Julia Kristeva, she mentioned that man’s love-hate relationship with the mother in the mirror stage of psychic development, combined with a typical male fascination and identification with femininity. When she explored the idea ‘polarity of woman as food vs woman as poison’, I did not see any link to the argument on the Levi-Strauss’s ‘common cultural equation of male with devourer and female with devourer’.


Mandy Merck, the Sexual Subject: A “Screen” Reader in Sexuality Routledge; 1 edition,1992

The sexual differentiation of Hitchcock text

In the essay, Grieg made his argument in all text of classical cinema as presentation of a strictly male oedipal trajectory based on Raymond bellour theoretical constructs mode. When He examined recent work on fantasy, he review lacan’s concept of the symbolic and sexual difference in the cinema which put forth an idea of relative autonomy of the spectator. Fantasy allowed people understand the film in different way and gave different indentation to different character in the film and structure of any particular Hitchcock film was changing and mot necessarily ‘gender specific’.


Tania Modleski , The Women Who Knew Too Much , The woman who was known too much: Notorious, Routledge; 2 edition, 2005

The essay focuses on relationship of Alicia and Devlin. She mentioned Alicia’s sex behaviour made her power in the film. But Devlin sadistic behaviour always made her under his control. Modleski examined some theory for seeing and knowing some one’s gendered place in the social order and examined these elements in film. She believed that Alicia’s suffering one part was related to her place in society and another part was from Devlin who stand away her to watching her suffer. She argued that the film was an opposition informing the feminist film theory: that opposition clustered around the constellation male and woman.


Mary Anne Doane, The Desire to Desire: The Woman’s Film of the 1940s, Indiana University Press, 1987

The Desire to Desire

In the essay, Mary Ann Doane used ‘the purple rose’ to give audience a brief idea on female spectatorship. She use Mulvey’s theory in ‘visual pleasure and narrative cinema’ to exam that films should not dismiss them as sexist or attempt to develop a way of seeing that how the film in 1940 works in masculine in nature. She mention she would backup this ides simply the opposite of the one handed down and contrasting the way the camera views the women in these films, the way the films’ female characters look out onto their worlds, and the way the Hollywood movie industry manufactures images that it expects female audiences to consume. Because the language she use here was too academic, I feel hard to follow.


Barbara Creed, the Monstrous-Feminine: Film, Feminism, Psychoanalysis, Routledge, 1993

The castrating mother: psycho

In the essay, Barbara Creed mentions the relationship in horror film were almost between mother and son and the relationship were usually represented with repressed Oedipal and desire, fear of the castrating mother. Barbara Creed used psycho amongst others as an example to exam how the function of this idea works.

In this film, the shower scene shows a good example of this, where the knife used represents not only the phallus but also the threat of castration, as seen by her actions.

He explained how, although the mother is often seen as the castrator, it was in fact the father who performed this role, and although does not give a convincing explanation for this, says that, in the case of Little Hans and the Wolf Man, the boy in this film had to it a ‘phylogenetic pattern’. I hope she could expand idea on ‘phylogenetic pattern’ more and give a example. Because I was confused about the point she made here.


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