Gaslight Movie Analysis

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The Psychological Abuse of Gaslighting
In the 1944 film adaptation of “Gaslight,” produced by Arthur Hornblow Jr, the human psyche is abused in order to gain control over another individual. Before both Patrick Hamilton’s play, as well as the film Gaslight, the word gaslight had a different meaning. The term gaslight used to be just that, a light lit with gas. This film changed that, especially in the field of psychology. Now, because of this film, Gaslight (or Gaslighting) is known as “an extremely effective form of emotional abuse that causes a victim to question their own feelings, instincts and sanity, which gives the abusive partner a lot of power” (The National Domestic Violence Hotline). The term gaslighting has been transformed to …show more content…

It is the dialogue and mannerisms that make the film successful. Gregory, played by Charles Boyer, is a diabolical thief who uses psychological abuse to convince his wife she is crazy. His character does this effectively and slowly. First, Gregory gets Paula to love him, granting him the trust he needs. He does this in the beginning of the film when he is seen outside the singing lesson with her. He tells her how in love with her he is, and that he’s waited for her his whole life. His demeaner is happy, and charming. This is important to enticing the victim. Next, he begins feeding her the lies about herself. He tells her she is forgetful and is always losing things. This is where he plants the seed, which he later reinforces through many situations by convincing her things have gone missing and she is at fault. Gregory’s character is effective because he gives rotating positive reinforcement as well as negative. For instance, he tells her he’s taking her to the theatre, then points out the picture is missing. It gives the impression to her that he is not cruel, to keep Paula within his grasp. Then soon after he brings in the negative reinforcement with the “missing picture”. When he is telling Paula, something is her fault his demeaner becomes stiff, and cold. He looks down on her like a scolding parent, and is eyes look filled with anger. This expression of emotions is important to Paula’s character both loving and being fearful of her

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