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Voyeurism In Hitchcock

Voyeurism: Hitchcock’s Obsession

When looking at two of Alfred Hitchcock’s most critically acclaimed movies, Rear Window and Vertigo, it may be difficult to tell that they are similar in any way. But after further review, it becomes fairly evident that the two films share a strong common bond. Hitchcock uses voyeurism as a main theme in both of these masterpieces, and the voyeurism is connected in many surprising ways: it is evident in the careers of the male voyeurs, causes serious damage to their relationships, and changes from unauthorized looking into neighborliness.

The voyeurism used in Rear Window is very similar to that used in Vertigo. First off, the male protagonists, Jefferies and Scottie, are both employed in fields that involve the use of voyeurism. The voyeurism also causes serious damage to the relationships of both the men. Thirdly, both Jefferies and Scottie try to “fetishize” their female counterparts, Lisa and Judy, respectively, and make them into something of their own image; something that the women simply are not. Finally, the unauthorized looking in both of the films changes to looking out for and caring for their fellow man; in other words, voyeurism turns into neighborliness.

In Rear Window, voyeurism is perhaps the most permeating theme throughout the entire movie. This unauthorized viewing is almost exclusively done by Jefferies. The voyeurism, however, causes him some serious problems.

In Rear Window, the voyeurism is readily apparent even in the first few minutes of the film. As it is revealed, Jefferies is a photographer. A photographer is the epitome of a voyeur, as in the course of the job it is routine to peer into the life of something, whether it is a plant, an animal, or a person. As Robert Stam and Roberta Pearson point out in their essay, “Hitchcock’s Rear Window: Reflexivity and the Critique of Voyeurism,” “His profession of photojournalism assumes and exploits a kind of voyeurism” (197). However, since Jefferies’s boss refuses to let him go back to work, he applies his work to his home-life, using his binoculars to look in on the lives of his neighbors, making mental pictures where he used to make physical ones. It appears harmless at first, but soon devolves into a primal urge to see exactly what is going on in his neighbors’ lives. Jefferies enjoys watching the everyday habits of his neighbors. He takes great...

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