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Alfred Hitchcock’s Ambivalence

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    I will demonstrate this ambivalence through an examination of both films using Tania Modleski’s article, Ritual of Defilement and Robert Sklar’s Death at Work: Hitchcock’s Violence and Spectator Cinema in order to prove that violence against women serves as a way to suppress women’s power in order to restore patriarchal rder, touching on the fact of how Hitchcock confronts the audience’s pleasure in violence and how they identify with those on screen.

    The women in Frenzy, Psycho and many other Hitchcock films are stripped of their power by either killing being killed or categorized as whores. According to Tania Modleski, Frenzy reveals very clearly “violence against women is an inclination in a patriarchal society. Men’s hostility towards women is expressed in Psycho and Frenzy as well as the fear of the ‘female other’. In desperation to acquire mastery over the woman, lies the threat of the devouring mother, a familiar figure in Hitchcock. Frenzy shows the evouring mother as the cause of Rusk’s psychopathic behavior.

    By the time Frenzy was released, Hitchcock need do no more than place the mother’s picture prominently on display in the villain’s apartment, have him quote her on several occasions, and get her to pop her head out the window in a cameo appearance, a reference to relationship between Norman Bates and his mothed’ (Modleski, 316-317). Both films suggest that these mothers and their sons are stuck in an environment that is controlled by patriarchy. When the mothers encounter having little power, they dominate and manipulate their sons as a replacement for their own forbidden power.

    The sons then develop a love-hate relationship with all female objects of their desire. Frenzy combines hatred and loyalty towards his mother as motivation for Rusk to murder the women who cannot give him the fulfillment he wants. In Psycho, the sexual attraction Norman has for Marion leads to the “mother half’ he carries in himself to murder her, showing the effect of the intimacy he had with his mother that is being replaced by a sexual relationship with another female.

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