The Thinker

Vertigo: A Feminist Theory

Alfred Hitchcock, a man who frequently employed Freudian theories uses these theories in the film “Vertigo”. For this analysis multiple psychoanalytical theories were put into used to represent thoughts if feministic approach to the film, these include; Oedipal complex, the ego, the mirror, an uneven look, the gaze and phallogocentrism “penis envy”.


Firstly one must consider the Oedipal complex within the perimeters of a feminist theory, this theory has been crucial to feminism for two reasons; it explains why women throughout history have been considered negatively and have been lass powerful within patriarchy and also because it illustrates that the gendered positions are culturally produced and can be changed.

As far as Vertigo is concerned, this concept is a perfect example of the male gaze and voyeurism. As Mulvey points out “the male gaze projects its fantasy onto the female figure which is styled accordingly”. The fact that the woman is the object of the male gaze shows that he is the active subject, the woman lacking the phallus and thus gaining access to the symbolic order vicariously, through the male passively, therefore her look is to be looked at. The man is the owner of the phallus and thus occupies a positive position. He is bearer of the look, he looks, the narrative is therefore about him, and it is his narrative. The woman is thus made by his image.


But what is it about the gaze? The process of the look (of classic Hollywood narrative) attempts to pacify the threat and in doing to attempts to violate women. This is because woman is without a phallus and therefore comes to symbolizes either mother or other to the male subject, representing threat of castration, the look is a controlling mechanism created as a symbolic tool against the threat.




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