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Authority Figures in “Psycho”

In Hitchcock’s “Psycho,” the use of authority gives the viewer a sense of normalcy in the movie.  The characters of the movie are all part of an elaborate plot of an insane killer, the use of authority keeps the reality of the storyline in check.  I think the use of the private detective gives the audience a feeling that the events could actually be happening, and bring a realistic feel to the viewer.  When police are involved, then the story can be more than just a random person running around and stabbing people.  The detective makes the viewer feel that they are a part of the story.  The professional occupation and feeling of authority can allow the audiences feel that there is an important aspect to the film with the occupation.  Besides the private detective, there is also the Sheriff of the town by Bates Motel.  When the viewer watched the private detective, they want to story to unfold more.  This words when he interrogates Lila and Sam.  He also questions Norman and searches through the safe and house.  This gives viewers a feeling that the story is moving along, the authority also makes everything seem like it is more legitimate because people tend to see authority figures like police and detectives to find the truth of situations.

Once the private detective is killed, the town’s sheriff is introduced to the story.  He takes the role of authority, but in the sense of a smaller area.  It is made clear to the audience that it’s a close knit area when Lila and Sam speak to the sheriff.  He and his wife both know who Norman is and the story behind his mother and the murder that happened so many years ago.  His wife even said that she helped Norman pick out the dress she was buried in.  The Sheriff uses his trust for Norman and his past to lead his opinions.  He sees it more likely that Marion or the private detective took the money because of his bias opinion.  The view of the smaller and less significant authority figure shows the audience that his opinion could be less important.  A viewer could see the Sheriff’s simplemindedness or hesitance to put any blame on Norman, a person he knows, can bring the audience to feel different thoughts through the progression of the film.  With the detective, the viewer wanted the story to move on, the sheriff makes the audience want to see how wrong he is and bring the story to a conclusion.


Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema Response

Paragraph I chose:

            At first glance, the cinema would seem to be remote from the undercover world of the surreptitious observation of an unknowing and unwilling victim. What is seen of the screen is so manifestly shown. But the mass of mainstream film, and the conventions within which it has consciously evolved, portray a hermetically sealed world which unwinds magically, indifferent to the presence of the audience, producing for them a sense of separation and playing on their voyeuristic phantasy. Moreover, the extreme contrast between the darkness in the auditorium (which also isolates the spectators from one another) and the brilliance of the shifting patterns of light and shade on the screen helps to promote the illusion of voyeuristic separation. Although the film is really being shown, is there to be seen, conditions of screening and narrative conventions give the spectator an illusion of looking in on a private world. Among other things, the position of the spectators in the cinema is blatantly one of repression of their exhibitionism and projection of the repressed desire on to the performer.

What it means:

            Cinema originally looks like it is seen as the secret viewing of a victim that doesn’t know their being watched, and doesn’t want to be watched.  Mainstream films and the advances in them, shows an airtight world that unwinds despite the audience.  This produces a separation for the viewer from the rest of the world and gives the pleasure of a fantasy from watching without being known.  The theaters are dark which helps the viewer feel isolated from others.  The films movement and lighting also makes everything more real which contributes to the feeling.  The story and conditions of the film makes the viewer feel like they are looking into a private world on their own.  The viewer’s position in the theater also shows the viewers repression of being the one viewed instead, and gives that role to the performer in the movie.

Words I looked up:

Surreptitious- Kept secret, esp. because it would not be approved of.

Hermetically- In an airtight manner

Voyeuristic- A person who derives sexual gratification from observing the naked bodies or sexual acts of others, especially from a secret vantage point

Exhibitionism- Extravagant behavior intended to attract attention to oneself.


Feminist Analysis: “The Story of an Hour”

            “The Story of an Hour” has the main character Mrs. Mallard show thoughts and emotions that can support and go against the feminist theory.  At the beginning of the story, Mrs. Mallard is overcome with grief with the loss of her husband.  This shows that the female is an emotional person compared to men.  It was natural to know that she would be upset with the death of her husband, but the story had both her sister and her husband’s friend be there to break the news to her.  Mrs. Mallard has heart problems which can make the reader see her as a weaker person right at the beginning of the story.  From the start, we as readers are told to see Mrs. Mallard as a naturally weaker character.

            Another way to make Mrs. Mallard appear as a weaker person was when she went to her room alone to continue her grief.  After she enters her room she goes to the chair and the story says, “Into this she sank, pressed down by a physical exhaustion that haunted her body and seemed to reach into her soul.”  This shows us that her strong emotions caused her physical exhaustion.  Not only was she emotional, but now the story shows that Mrs. Mallard can’t even handle it physically either.  It goes even further to say that the weakness even goes into her soul.

            After she sits down, Mrs. Mallard begins to appear as a stronger woman which is where the feminist theory takes effect.  She looks out of the house through the large open window which could also signify the open opportunities available to her now.  She begins to see how her marriage made her into a lesser person.  She realizes that she has been living her life through limitations caused from being married.  Mrs. Mallard knows that she can begin to live for herself.  The story says, “There would be no powerful will bending hers in that blind persistence with which men and women believe they have a right to impose a private will upon a fellow-creature.”  This quote shows the feminist theory that it was assumed women were oppressed and shows the patriarchal ideology.  She was bending her will and freedom to a white man that held all of the control in the relationship.  Marriage, in this story, appears to be the male having complete control over the woman.  It also seems like Mrs. Mallard thought that she wasn’t even allowed to have her own thoughts which was probably true.  To question your husband at this period in time meant that you were being an out of control wife.

            Mrs. Mallard goes on to realize how much she really didn’t love her husband.  She doesn’t feel the need to have guilt over it since he is already gone.  She finally breaks away from the role forced onto her as the perfect wife and can begin to stop holding herself back.  This can show the reader that a woman at this time might not even be aware of just how much of herself she has to hold back when married.  It seems like Mrs. Mallard didn’t allow herself the thoughts of being completely free from him and what she will be able to do when he’s no longer around, until he was actually dead. 

            I think that the story also shows how Mrs. Mallard develops her own identity.  As a reader, we are told that her name is Mrs. Mallard at the beginning.  Through her grief of losing her husband she is still Mrs. Mallard to us.  This shows that her title is really just the name given to her with her husband’s last name.  She has no identity as her own; she is just a woman that belongs to Mr. Mallard.  After she realizes how free she is, we begin to see her as an actual person.  Her emotions and thoughts aren’t about her dead husband anymore; instead it’s about her living without limits.  She comes into her own individual person.  It is right after these thoughts that we hear he sister calling her Louise.  Her being called by her given name can signify that she is now an equal to men.  She is no longer being held back by the role of a wife.

            “The Story of an Hour” also shows how the thoughts of a woman can change without the limitations.  Mrs. Mallard thought of time differently after the death of her husband.  The story says, “She breathed a quick prayer that life might be long. It was only yesterday she had thought with a shudder that life might be long.”  The death of her husband gave her a new look of life in her future.  Now that she could live for herself, she wanted nothing more than to have a long time to enjoy it.  When she was forced into the role of timid and obedient wife, she didn’t see a point in living.  She would have rather died young then to have to obey her husband for the rest of her life.  With this freedom came the irony of the story.  After she says this, her husband walks into their home and she realizes that he wasn’t really dead all along.  She finally allowed herself to think of her life as living for herself.  I think that the shock and disappointment in not being allowed the new life is what killed her.  She got her wish in the end and lived a short life, which is what she wanted all along if she was forced to live her life for her husband.    It seems like her body gave her what her mind wanted.  It is also ironic because like in the beginning, she is made to appear to be a weaker character because of her heart condition.  In the end, this weakness is what everyone thinks killed her, and not her resistance of being put back into the role that was forced and expected of her.

The Laugh of the Medusa: Paragraph Summary

The paragraph I selected:

            In women’s speech, as in their writing, that element which never stops in resonating, which, once we’ve been permeated by it, profoundly and imperceptibly touched by it, retains the power of moving us- that element is the song: first music from the first voice of love which is alive in every woman.  Why this privileged relationship with the voice?  Because no woman stockpiles as many defenses for countering the drives as does a man.  You don’t build walls around yourself, you don’t forego pleasure as “wisely” as he.  Even if phallic mystification has generally contaminated good relationships, a woman is never far from “mother” (I mean outside her role functions: the “mother” as nonname and as source for goods).  There is always within her at least a little of that good mother’s milk.  She writes in white ink.


My summarization:

            When women speak, it is similar to how they write.  The woman cannot stop from being filled with this reverberating sound, after women are filled with this sound, they are touched by it and unable to actually perceive it within their minds.  This still have the power to emotionally move them.  That sound is a song.  This song is alive in every woman and was made from the first sound of love that created the first music.  Cixous asks women why they are privileged with the relationship with the voice of love.  Women don’t have as many defenses to go up against the voice as men do.  Women don’t build the walls around themselves; they don’t give up pleasure as smartly as men do.  Even if men having sex with others destroy good relationships, a woman is still considered to hold the role of being the mother.  The women’s only use in the relationship is to feed the babies with their milk.


Words that I looked up:

Resonating– Produce, or be filled with a deep, full, reverberating sound.  Evoke or suggest images, memories, and emotions.

Permeated– Spread throughout something; pervade.

Imperceptibly– Impossible to difficult to perceive by the mind or senses.

Phallic– Of, relating to, or resembling a phallus or erect penis.

Mystification– The act or an instance of being mystified.  Bewilderment, confusion resulting from failure to understand.



Stranger Than Fiction Response

From what I understand about the deconstruction, it’s that there is nothing outside of the text.  This theory works well with Stranger Than Fiction since the whole idea of the movie is that Harold Crick is a character in Karen Eiffel’s book.  Although Harold is a real person in the world, everything that he does is narrated by Karen as she writes her book.  Since what he is doing matches her narration word by word, this shows that Harold is really the text.  This supports the deconstruction theory by having no story outside of the text.  I think that as a viewer of the movie, although we don’t always hear Karen narrating Harold’s every move, we are supposed to assume that she is still writing it.  When Harold goes to Professor Hilbert, he is told to see whether the story is a comedy or a tragedy.  Even while Harold is trying to figure this out, it doesn’t mean that finding out will change how Karen writes the story.  She already has a plan in how she is going to write the story of Harold Crick and mentions towards the beginning that she will kill him off.  A scene that supports that nothing exists outside of the text when Harold tries to call Karen to meet with her about the book.  While she was typing out the words that the phone rang, it happened in real life too.

            I also came to understand in our class notes that the deconstruction theory also means that everything that we make up isn’t really made up or created because no matter what, it already exists.  This theory can be applied the movie and Harold’s life.  At the beginning of the movie, he lives a lonely and boring life.  It isn’t until he learns that he is going to die soon that he begins to actually live his life.  He meets a woman that he falls in love with, which is encouraged by Karen’s writing.  He also takes the time to learn how to play the guitar since it was something that he always wanted to do but never got around to.  Although Harold is doing all of these new things, Karen is still writing about them.  This shows that the events happen when Karen writes them down, but they are already in her mind before they happen.  Nothing is really new.  This is also shown when Harold’s death is already handwritten out on the paper.  Both Harold and Professor Hilbert are able to read what will eventually happen to Harold once the words go from ink to print.  This can mean that the death and how it happens isn’t new because not only was it already planned and recorded on paper, but it was also considered at the beginning of the story.  While Karen didn’t know how exactly to kill Harold off, she was planning on actually making it happen in the end.  She knew that his watch would hold importance to his death by the very beginning of the movie.  The watch was one of the first things mentioned when we see her narrating Harold’s life, so we know that the storyline and ended has already existed, even if not fully developed.

Structure, Sign, and Play- Response

From the reading:

Ethnology-like any science-comes about within the element of discourse. And it is primarily a European science employing traditional concepts, however much it may struggle against them. Consequently, whether he wants to or not-and this does not depend on a decision on his part-the ethnologist accepts into his discourse the premises of ethnocentrism at the very moment when he is employed in denouncing them This necessity is irreducible; it is not a historical contingency.


These sentences mean:

The study of animals is discussed through written or spoken communications, like other sciences.  This is mostly studied by Europeans that want to look at traditional ideas, even if the concepts or ideas fight against them.  In the end, a person who studies animals approves in his studies or communications the ideas of his ethnic or cultural group as centrally important.  This can be against what he wants, and is not his decision.  The centralism comes when he is openly saying something about the animals is reprehensible, and this can’t be changed, it’s not something that can be changed by random events.


Words that I looked up:

Ethnology- The scientific study of animal behavior, and a sub-topic of zoology.

Discourse- Generally refers to “written or spoken communication”

Ethnocentrism- The tendency to believe that one’s ethnic or cultural group is centrally important, and that all other groups are measured in relation to one’s own.

Denouncing- To condemn openly as being evil or reprehensible.

Irreducible- Not able to be reduced or simplified.

Historical Contingency- The theory that the paths that life can evolve on are constrained by historical events that are often random.





There Was a Boy – Response

I think that this poem uses a lot of metaphors and images that can relate to mis-en-abyme.  The main one being the echos used.  When the young boy first makes the sound that echos through the mountains it makes a good example of mis-en-abyme.  When I first thought of the echos, I found them to be something positive for the boy.  I thought that since he was alone in nature, that the repetition of sound made him feel like he was less alone in the world.  I saw the echos as a conversation that the boy could have with nature and not feel so lonely.  However, after having the discussion in class about this poem, I was able to see that the echos could also be negative.  Echos make a sound because there is empty space that allows sound to bounce off of and make the noise again.  This could show that the boy in the poem was so completely alone that there was nothing around him but empty space, which allowed his echo to be heard so clearly.

I also think that the owls can be considered examples of mis-en-abyme in this story.  The more that I read the poem, the more my opinions change about what was happening.  The owls in this poem could be completely made up as a thought in the boy’s mind while he’s making the sounds into the mountains.  On the other hand, they could also be real and responding to the boy in nature with them.  The words in the poem for the owls noise makes them seem like they are really there.  Wordsworth uses words like “shout”, “quivering peals”, and “screams” that make it nearly impossible to not think that the owls are really not there with the boy.

 I found the last stanza of the poem to be a like an abyss too because we can never really be sure what Wordsworth is trying to say.  I was able to take it literally that the boy actually died when he was just a child.  This could show that the moments he had in nature were so significant to the boy, since that was all he knew in life before it ended.  I could also see it as his childhood being over and the naivety that he was able to feel in nature is over.  Now that he grew up, he was forced to see what is really in the world and that vision of beautiful, peaceful nature was destroyed.  The boy in the poem was forced to see reality as he gained experience and the tranquility could never be returned to him after that.