Analysis Of Alfred Hitchcock's 'Rear Window'

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1. Introduction In the following essay I will investigate the significance of Alfred Hitchcock’s figuration of ‘the blonde’ and ask what the construction of Hitchcock’s blonde heroines reveals about gender dynamics in post-war cinema. To this end, I will undertake a close analysis of the blonde protagonists Lisa Carol Fremont and Madeleine Elster in Hitchcock’s post-war films Rear Window (1954) and Vertigo (1958) . To address this issue, first I will introduce the archetype of the Hitchcock blonde in general and its feminist critique by Mulvey (2000) and Modleski (2005) more specifically. Second, I investigate the cinematic techniques Alfred Hitchcock utilised in order to create the seeming superficiality of his blonde protagonists. My claim is that through this framing the male protagonists and the spectators are misdirected about the blonde’s passivity. Finally, in order to argue this case, I will discuss how the superficial masquerades of the blondes Lisa Carol Fremont and Madeleine are deconstructed in the course of the films and what this reveals about the blonde heroines and the post-war society in general. I find that Hitchcock makes use of blonde iconography and a strong focus on female fashion and make-up in order to construct his blonde heroines as superficial characters and objects of the desire of the male protagonists, who want to hold power over them. However, Hitchcock’s heroines must not be underestimated and reduced to passive objects. Underneath the
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