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The Feminine Presence: Misogyny and Feminism in Hitchcock’s Psycho
Fraser Readman (author)
Alfred Hitchcock, the master of the horror film, has been accused by many film critics and theorists of being a misogynist, displaying the brutal deaths of his female characters on screen because of a deeply rooted hatred for females that he had. Hitchcock’s films have also been scrutinized under a Freudian psycho-analytic lens, and these criticisms postulate that Hitchcock’s issues with women perhaps stem from issues with his own mother, and that this subconscious tension has been translated into on-screen brutality against women. The purpose of this essay is to debunk this prevalent myth that Alfred Hitchcock was a misogynist filmmaker, and instead argue through looking at his 1960 classic Psycho (Paramount, USA) that he was in fact in some forms an early feminist, with sharp critiques of the dominant, patriarchal society in which he lived. Hitchcock’s female characters in Psycho provide evidence of Hitchcock’s admiration of females, despite what psychoanalysis of the film might suggest. I argue that Freudian film critiques overlook the fact that the females in Psycho are assertive, dominant, and progress the action throughout the film, while the males are actually for the most part simply passive participants in a film dominated by strong female presences.
Arts and Humanities
English Language and Literature