Motifs In Alfred Hitchcock's Film Strangers On A Train

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This paper will discuss the motif of the double in Strangers on a Train. While the double is a recurring motif in Hitchcock’s work that he routinely employs in order to explore questions of moral responsibility, identity, and guilt, it receives its most overt and thorough treatment in Strangers on a Train. Studies of the film have consistently understood Bruno as a stand in for Guy’s unspoken desire, the chaos held at bay by societal order - Guy does indeed want to ‘get rid of’ his wife, but he transfers this responsibility (and associated guilt) to Bruno (Walker; Wood; Dellolio; Truffaut). As Walker notes, in Hitchcock’s films, the double most often serves as an ‘alter ego’ that enacts the repressed/disavowed/unpermitted desires of another character. Indeed, as Walker points out, There is little ambiguity that this is precisely what Hitchcock meant to communicate in the film, as he has formally stated this in correspondence with Francois Truffaut: Truffaut: “This picture [...] is systematically built around the figure ‘two’. Here [as in Shadow of a Doubt], both characters might very well have had the same name. Whether it’s Guy or Bruno, it’s…show more content…
The only kind of doubles I play’. Guy also pulls out a lighter for Bruno that features a crossed pair of tennis rackets and is engraved ‘A to G’, which, it is quickly established, stands for ‘Anne’ (Guy’s wife-in-waiting) to ‘Guy’, although it could just as easily be read as (Bruno) ‘Anthony’ to ‘Guy’. The meeting ends with Bruno’s suggestion that he and Guy swap murders - ‘criss-cross!’. The coda to the symphony of doubles that opens the film is Hitchcock’s cameo as a passenger boarding a train with a double bass as Guy
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