Gender Stereotypes In Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window

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‘Rear Window shows how easy it is to be deceived by appearances.’ Discuss.

Hitchcock’s critically acclaimed thriller ‘Rear Window’ details the life of 1950s New York - where affluence, materialism and patriarchy were valued. The deceit that plagues the plot of the story, strips bare the constructed facades that underpin the film and as a result, highlights how easy it is to be deceived by appearances. Although innocent in nature, these facades act as the foundations for LB ‘jeff’ Jefferies’ fragmented assumptions of women. These opinions become his detriment. If Jeff were to just look past Lisa’s behaviour, he would recognise that his perception of her is utterly wrong and that he has been fooled by her rather glamorous exterior. The women
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This intrusion only serves to further enhance the already immense gender stereotypes of the 1950s. Through the perspective of Jeff, the audience is led to perceive a rather promiscuous woman, namely ‘Miss Torso’ and a rather melancholic character, ‘Miss Lonelyhearts’. Jeff simply assigns the female characters labels which could be viewed as further oppressing the female population. In contrast, the connotations of the male characters - ‘The Composer’ and ‘Thorwald’ are rather neutral and inconspicuous in the sense that they bare no negative alternative meaning. In reference to the male characters, the lack of pronouns within their labels segregates them from their gender. The female names however, have a direct correlation to their gender due to the pronoun ‘Miss’, suggesting that their names are derived from Jeff’s rather cynical view of women. This is accentuated when Jeff contends that Miss Torso is ‘like a queen bee with her pick of the drones’, condemning Miss Torso for her perceived sins. Lisa, through a feminist lens, suggests that ‘she’s doing a woman’s hardest job- juggling wolves’, shifting the audience’s moral attention to Miss Torso’s male occupants. At the end of the film it is discovered that Jeff’s original opinion of Miss Torso was utterly wrong and that Lisa was in fact right when she suggested that Miss Torso ‘ [wasn’t] in love with [...] any of …show more content…
Lisa, through her love for Jeff, strives to satisfy his wants and needs but Jeff’s disdain towards marriage throws their relationship into utter turmoil. Jeff, through his sanctimonious ways, associates marriage with ‘never [being] able to go anywhere’, rather than a way to express his love for his ‘too perfect’ partner Lisa. Arguably, Jeff’s behaviour is viewed as ‘abnormal’ to not only Lisa, but the audience as he later describes her as ‘too beautiful’, ‘too talented’ and ‘too sophisticated’, yet ‘not what [he] wants’. Jeff’s fear of commitment, and more so confinement is reinforced when he contends that ‘sometimes it’s worse to stay than it is to run’, rendering him ignorant. Through his voyeuristic tendencies Jeff is exposed to the downfalls of marriage - the ‘bickering’, the ‘family quarrels’ and in turn contends that Lisa ‘is just not the girl for [him]’. Jeff’s perception of marriage is influenced by those around him as ‘in [his] neighborhood [wives] still nag’. The newlyweds, whom Jeff observes, are essentially the embodiment of 1950’s married life. In the first scene they are viewed as a loving couple- within the ‘honeymoon’ phase, however, as the plot progresses their relationship begins to deplete. Although Hitchcock illustrates the downfalls of marriage, he also focuses on the positive elements marriage brings.

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