Female Gothic Film Noir Essay

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Both the film noir and the female Gothic film cycles address the changing tides of the woman throughout the 1940s. As the social implications of wartime America emerged in cinema, exploration of the female’s role outside of the home and as a part of a moving and shaking society became key. Women began to emerge as highly competent and counter to their previous role as the subservient doe of a housewife. Females rose to status in their new role as the “working-woman,” embracing previously male-occupied jobs whilst bounding into the world of education (Helen Hanson, At the Margins of Film Noir: Genre, Range and Female Representation). This historical contextualization is utilized and portrayed in the film noir genre as well as the female Gothic…show more content…
Hanson outlines that the use of the double is a common aspect of female Gothic film. In “Horror and Fantasy Elements in Classic Films Noir,” Paul Meehan describes that “the double is a folk belief that each person has a kind of psychic twin, and that is usually a very bad thing for one to be in the same place at the same time as one’s double,” thus existing also as an element of film noir. Meehan’s definition is directly played out as Shadow of a Doubt unfolds. Upon Uncle Charlie’s arrival, Charlotte mentions that she and he are “something like twins,” directly creating their positioning as doubles. So, the shared name serves the double and serves in the film’s functioning as both film noir and female Gothic. Charlotte’s skepticism towards her uncle becomes disgust as her suspicions become affirmed. Through the connecting element of the gifted ring, Charlotte affirms that her uncle is, in fact, the Merry Widow Murderer. So, the unfortunate positioning of her as his double entails the reassuring nature of family and the simultaneously threatening fear of a
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