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Crime Fiction In Arthur Doyles’s "The Hounds Of Baskerville" And Alfred Hitchcock´S "Rear Window"

1135 words - 5 pages

Popular crime fiction has tended to maintain and challenge the traditional conventions of the established genre for its own contextual purpose. The generations holds Arthur Doyles’s “ The Hounds of Baskerville“ as one of the most endearing classics, revolving around the brilliant deductions of the enigmatic Sherlock Holmes, establishing a series of conventions that were to serve as a catalyst for future writers. In this sense, Alfred Hitchcock’s own “Rear Window” exhibits a more liberal, postmodern approach that embeds itself in the contemporary consciousness due to the manipulations of its key conventional concerns, particularly the sleuth hero and the clue puzzle. In doing so, both texts ...view middle of the document...

Such concepts prelude sophisticated variations of contemporary identity in crime writing, mirroring the progression of ideals within the Victorian era.
Within Rear Window, Hitchcock establishes the sleuth hero conventions through an early postmodern America, namely Jeffries and Lisa. Likewise with Holmes, Jeffries is isolated from the activities of mainstream society and engages in his own brand of voyeuristic ratiocination, a subversion of traditional sleuth tactics. In particular, Hitchock focuses on dynamic gender roles of the 1950s whereby the female intuition is foreground through the composer’s shallow focus and close mid shot of Lisa and Stella during the deduction process. Lisa herself is characterised as loyal and competent, “The Girl Friday”, transforming the literary motif of the faithful servant into the sleuth-esque detective and subverting traditional gender roles of 20th century America. The didactic tone that Lisa employs :” Tell me everything you saw,” instigates the accretion of evidence the traditional sleuth employs whilst the high angle shot stresses the dominance of the female over Jeffries who is cropped and marginalised, denoting the subverted roles. Addtionally, the colour imagery and the salience of Lisa’s black dress connotes power and authority, juxtaposed by Jeffries own conservative blue and thus, symbolising the more pivotal role that the female lead plays.
The male crisis is further established by Hitchcock through Lisa and Stella, who describe him as having a “hormone deficiency” which is further stressed through the phallic symbolisation of his inability to “pop the cork”. This reflects post-war context unease over the changing dynamics of both genders, portraying a key issue of Rear Window’s postmodern context. Despite this, there is a retention of the traditional heterosexual role as Lisa puts down her copy of Beyond the Himalayas and instead, picking up the Harper’s Baazar.

THE CLUE PUZZLE
The parameters of the traditional clue puzzle in Doyle’s novel illustrate the operations of the analytical detective to the crime as an intellectual puzzle that is hyperbolically described as “extreme exactness and astuteness… An outburst of passionate energy,” extending the process to an aesthetic experience. This is further exemplified through the exclamatory tone of :” Come Watson come! The game is afoot and we must go. Not a word!” where Holmes comparison of the crime to a game reflects the Victorian societal context confident in their imperial might and prosperity and engages the readers...

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