Date of Award

Fall 2013

Degree Type





Alfred Hitchcock has long been known as a master of mystery, a connoisseur of charismatically cryptic suspense. Through his renowned style of directing in films such as Vertigo, Rear Window and Psycho, Hitchcock twisted reality, expectations and the accepted conventions of society. In his films, Alfred Hitchcock works to contort, spiral and even reverse stereotypical gender roles. Established in the pre-1950’s, gender stereotypes set different standards for men and women, and integrated the ideas of those ideals into society. From infanthood, it is projected upon people that they must behave a certain way- it starts with pink and blue baby blankets, all the way up into adulthood, where Wal-Mart still pays their female employees less than male employees . In the 1920’s, the author Virginia Woolf stated "It is obvious that the values of women differ very often from the values which have been made by the other sex. Yet it is the masculine values that prevail". Women are expected to be more empathetic and emotionally responsive than men. They are supposedly more cheerful and able to determine emotions from nonverbal communication, whereas men are apparently rather stoic, preferring not to show emotions to the extent that females do. This essay will examine the different roles and stereotypes with respect to Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo, Rear Window and Psycho. In this essay, we will briefly discuss gender roles before delving into the three films mentioned above with respect to Hitchcock flipping them around, and examine the symbolism and effects of that on the characters on screen.


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