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Don't Judge A Book By It's Cover

950 words - 4 pages

The intricate portrayal of female spies in both John le Carré’s Call for the Dead and Alfred Hitchcock’s The Lady Vanishes help develop the complex political messages within. The ‘traditional’ profile of an attractive female character with no backstory is discarded and more untraditional characteristics are adopted. Elsa Fennan, a holocaust victim recently widowed, uses her worn appearance to deceive Smiley. Her appearance adds depth to her motives and intensifies the plot. Hitchcock delivers two vital messages through both female spies in the movie. Miss Froy, the old governess, looks more suited to make tea and tell stories rather than deliver vital wartime messages to Britain. Moreover, her portrayal adds insight into one of the messages Hitchcock was trying to send. Iris elucidates a different reversal of the classic female spy, as her personality was too self-centred. However, she abandons this fake persona and reveals her selflessness and kind heart. Her determination saves Miss Froy and the important information bound for Britain. Analysis of these characters and their divergence from the ‘traditional’ profile given to female spies exhibits buried messages.
Elsa’s worn appearance and broken mindset is crucial for her deception as a spy, but also warns of the danger of Nazi Germany and East Germany. Upon first encountering Elsa, Smiley feels sorrow looking at “her crooked little… of astonishing intensity. It was a worn face, racked and ravaged long ago”(CFD 78). Her image reflects the intensity of the horrors she faced in the Nazi concentration camps. Smiley doesn’t view Elsa as a threat, but rather a miserable widow. Although her appearance is unconventional, Elsa uses her tattered look to her advantage. Her storied appearance eventually leads Smiley to her motives. Well before arriving in London, she “dreamed of long golden hair and they shaved my head, I dreamed of a beautiful body and they broke it with hunger”(CFD 101). Her background creates reasoning behind her espionage, which is an undying determination to ensure others don’t face the same atrocities. However her death also exemplifies the dangers of communist occupied East Germany. She sacrificed her marriage for Soviet Germany and was repaid with a tragic death, an injustice that is comparable to Nazi Germany. Elsa illustrates the horrors the Holocaust and the continuous danger that East Germany posed throughout the Cold War. Mrs Froy’s appearance and importance also serve to deliver an important political message.
Mrs. Froy, played by May Whitty, disappears for a majority of the film and the lack of concern shown by some of her fellow Britons illustrates a key message. Mrs. Froy introduces herself to several of the movie’s characters and begins to tell Charters and Caldicott that “in the six years [she has been a...

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