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Dualism In Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho Essay

1459 words - 6 pages

The characters in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960) each have a dual nature that is masterfully portrayed through character development and use of mirrors throughout the film. The very first shot in Psycho is zooming in from an open view of the city where it is a bright and sunny day. As the shot zooms in further and further it comes into a dark and shaded room that shows Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) and Sam Loomis (John Gavin) having an affair in a undisclosed hotel. This is dualistic image is just one example of many that Hitchcock has placed in this film.
Marion Crane is the first main character that is focused upon for the first half of Psycho. “All that Marion Wants, after all, are the humble treasures of love, marriage, home, and family.” (Brill 227) [up and down] This is the reason why Marion steals the money in the first place. The money is her first real chance at escaping the life of meeting at cheap hotels in secret. The opening scene shows the lack of money and personal isolation that Marion has while making love in secrecy in a hotel that “aren’t interested in you when you come in, but when your time is up.” Marion is desperate for any type of companionship with Sam even claiming she would happily live in the spare room at his work.
The progress of Marion in Psycho is followed very closely by her appearance and her apparel. “…the bag is a transgressive agent associated with stealing, escape, and independence.” (Gottlieb, Brookhouse 151) [Sarah Street 151] Before any crime was ever committed, Marion wore a white bag that matched her underwear and her clothing. After the money was taken, she made a choice to place the envelope of money in her black bag, rather than her suitcase which would completely hide the money. Along with the change in bags, Marion also changes her underwear to black, and her outer clothes to dark colors as well.
Marion’s death is very symbolic and dualistic in a multitude of ways. “The fact that Marion is nonetheless murdered after her self-realization suggests that neither she nor the society that produced her is recuperable” (Gottlieb, Brookhouse 362) [Christopher Sharrett 362] Once Marion had made that fatal mistake to become a criminal, she was destined to die as a criminal, with no chance of salvation. This is very dualistic of the ending of the frontier, which was right around the time Psycho was produced. “the movement of the film is steadily downward and inward, away from the feeling of daylight, abundance, and expanse to a nightmarish claustrophobia that exteriorizes the unconscious mind.” (Gottlieb, Brookhouse 362) [Christopher Sharrett 362] The image of the West being a gigantic open expanse was coming to an end and Hitchcock showed that the frontier was finished and there was no chance of it coming back.
Hitchcock places a large amount of dualism between the characters of Marion, Sam, Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins), and Lila Crane (Vera Miles). “The first couple, Sam and Marion, engenders...

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