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Many of Alfred Hitchcocku2019s movies middle on an regular person going through an unexpected or extraordinary situation. These situations then cause the ordinary person to act with violence or extreme behavior in order to resolve or get away the new conditions. In The Lodger, The 39 Steps, Strangers on a Train, and several other Hitchcock films, the male, wrongfully-accused hero must go to great lengths to clear his name and attempt to bring the real criminal to justice. In other films such as Blackmail, The Lady Vanishes, Sabotage, and Suspicion the female protagonist reacts violently or rashly in order to cope with the terrifying realization that she cannot trust those around her. However, it’s in Hitchcocku2019s later movies, Vertigo (1958), Psycho (1960), and The Birds (1963), that we see protagonists reacting to uncanny circumstances with horror and madness u2013 two themes that havenu2019t truly been approached in Hitchcocku2019s previous films (with the exception of Rebecca, which touches upon these themes). In this essay, I will examine the leading characters of Vertigo, Psycho, and The Birds in order to expose the role of madness as an equalizer among seemingly very different persons. Discussion of some of Hitchcocku2019s motifs, such as psychoanalysis, will be used to strengthen my claim that the madness of the u201cvillainsu201d in these movies is mirrored in a type of madness in the heroes. In these films Hitchcock demonstrates the ease in which an ordinary person can become mad, in order to induce a level of horror onto the audience. And by building up the relationship between the audience and the mad characters, Hitchcock pushes the audience to be horrified by their own potential for madness.
In the film Vertigo, the leading character, John u201cScottieu201d Ferguson (played by Jimmy Stewart), does not immediately come across as a mad character. For nearly three-quarters of the film, Scottie is portrayed as a u201cnormal,u201d witty guy, who, despite his fear of heights and the trauma he obtained from watching a man fall to his death, is still able to joke-around and live a somewhat normal life. For the first part of the film, Scottie does not display the qualities of a mad character, and, instead, we are presented with a story based on the eerie madness of Madeline Elster (Kim Novak), the wife of an old friend of Scottieu2019s from his college days. Believing that she is possessed by the spirit of Carlotta Valdes u2013 Madelineu2019s great-grandmother who had a tragic life and death u2013 Madelineu2019s husband, Gavin, hires Scottie to come out of retirement as a detective and follow Madeline in order to solve the mystery of her increasingly strange behavior. shower curtains cheap.
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As a detective, it is in Scottieu2019s nature to gather clues and solve mysteries, and before Madelineu2019s u201csuicideu201d he frustratingly says, u201cIf I could just find the key!u201d as if there was one logical thing that could explain everything that was happening to Madeline. It is the search for the u201ckeyu201d that causes Scottieu2019s breakdown, and his rejection of the notion that there are things that cannot be explained. It is Scottieu2019s preoccupation with cause and effect that leads to his rejection of the u201cfactsu201d surrounding the case. His love for Madeline strengthens his inability to let go, until the mystery consumes him, which is evident in his dream of Carlotta and his obsession with recreating Madeline in Judy. It is not until after Madelineu2019s faked u201cdeath,u201d that we see a drastic change in Scottie that throws him into the spotlight as the truly mad character of the film. In Madelineu2019s absence, Scottie absorbs and adopts her madness as a result of his being in love with her. After her u201cdeath,u201d he is now haunted by both Carlotta and Madeline, and also by the puzzle he could never solve, the connection between Carlotta, Madeline, and Madelineu2019s inexplicable behavior. shower curtains jcp.
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shower curtain x 74,What makes Vertigo different than Psycho and The Birds is that there is in fact a u201ckey,u201d as there is an explainable answer for almost everything that Scottie has experienced. In Vertigo, that key is Carlottau2019s necklace: material proof of the connection between Judy, Madeline, and the underlying scheme for the murder of the real Mrs. Elster. What is interesting is that the audience is given this information before Scottie discovers it. This knowledge held by the audience, in contrast with Scottieu2019s strange and startling behavior in the reconfiguration of Judy into Madeline, makes Scottieu2019s actions all the more alarming. It is clear that Scottie doesnu2019t even really know why heu2019s doing what heu2019s doing, which he reveals when Judy asks him, u201cWhy are you doing this? What good will it do?u201d to which he answers, u201cI donu2019t know.u201d Though Scottie discovers the u201ckeyu201d that reveals the supernatural circumstances that appear to surround Madeline, there are still unsettling issues left unresolved. By the end of the film, Scottie still doesnu2019t understand the workings within his own mind. He doesnu2019t understand his acrophobia, nor how to overcome it; something he proves in the beginning of the film when he tries to prove to Midge that his fears may be solved by slowly acclimating himself to heights, and at the end with his surprise at overcoming his fear unintentionally. His fear of falling reflects his fear of loss of meaning, something James Vest notes in his essay on Vertigo when he writes, u201cFalling symbolizes instability and powerlessness, loss of control and balance in both a physiological and an existential sense. In Vertigo it serves as a correlative to the collapse of reasonu201d (6). For Scottie, the collapse of reason culminates in both the death of Madeline and his relationship with Judy (ironically the same person). Through Madelineu2019s supposed suicide, Scottie becomes lost within her madness as if it is a riddle that has no answer. Through Judy, Scottie comes to the realization that he can never have Madeline back, and we get no sense of closure for him by the end of the film, only the potential for further psychological damage as he witnesses yet another death by falling.
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Our attachment to Scottie is fostered throughout the majority of the film, and is essentially what makes the second part of the film unsettling. Throughout most of the film, Scottie is likable and relatable, but after Madelineu2019s death he becomes unpredictable, closed-off, and difficult to understand. Our relationship with Scottie is mirrored in the character of his friend Midge, another likeable, relatable character who gets along well with Scottie. In the beginning we get to know Scottie and like him, particularly due to his friendly relationship with Midge, and we are comfortable with his character despite his frightening experience of vertigo in the very beginning of the film. Towards the middle of the movie, like Midge, we detect changes in him as he becomes more and more intrigued with Madeline, and we start to understand him a little less as he distances himself from both the audience and Midge. After Madelineu2019s u201cdeath,u201d he becomes someone we can no longer understand, which is reflected when Midge visits him at the hospital and is unable to elicit any type of response out of him.
Shower curtains beach theme,As the unsuspecting mad character, and as the investment of our time and empathy, Scottie and his actions in the second part of the film create a sensation of horror. This horror stems from the notion of the normal person turned mad, and from the danger of becoming invested in another personu2019s life u2013 perhaps a comment on the dangers of voyeurism and movie-watching in itself. Scottie’s investment is in Madeline, and for the audience, it is in Scottie. As a result, we too are affected by the instability of another person, and the audience comes to mirror Scottie just as he comes to mirror Madeline. However, both Scottie and the audience are stuck solving the complexity of fictional characters, and therefore come to unsatisfying answers. Scottie solves the mystery of Madelineu2019s case, but in a way that causes him not only to lose her forever, but to admit that she never existed in the first place. John McCombe mentions the dissatisfaction in Vertigo, in his essay on The Birds, writing, u201cThere is an answer, of course, but it is one Scottieu2019s fragile psyche will later be unable to accept: the dreams do not exist, because Madeline does not existu201d (66). Similarly, the audience is left fully invested in the circumstances surrounding Scottie, but it is an investment that has no closure or satisfying resolution.
Like Vertigo, Psycho can also be seen as a two-act play, in which we are presented with the madness of one character and then the more prominent madness of another, unsuspecting character. These two characters happen to be the villain and the hero, or in this case the heroine u2013 that is if we can consider Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) to be the heroine of the film since she dies rather early on. Marion is at least presented as the leading lady throughout the first part of the film, in which we follow her story of stealing money from her employer and then running off to meet up with her boyfriend who doesnu2019t know that sheu2019s taken the money. Different from Vertigo, in Psycho it is the leading character that shows early signs of madness that are later mirrored in another character who becomes invested in her life.
Though many viewers may not consider Marion to be mad, her odd behavior and increasing paranoia throughout the first part of the film foreshadow the more prevailing sense of madness portrayed later on through Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins). After submitting to temptation and deciding, on a whim, to steal the forty-thousand dollars that has conveniently been put in her possession, Marion leaves town and becomes increasingly paranoid as she gets further away from the people who will be affected by her crime. As she drives away from town she imagines conversations of her boss, coworkers, and sister, and what they will say when they discover both she and the money are missing. She also gets rid of her car, switching it for another, wraps the evidence of her crime (the money) up in a newspaper, and lies to the police over minute details in order to cover her tracks.