Analysis of Themes in Rear Window

Only available on StudyMode
  • Download(s): 1792
  • Published: November 3, 2008
Read full document
Text Preview
Fear of Marriage and Voyeurism in Rear Window

In Alfred Hitchcock's 1954 classic thriller Rear Window, Jimmy Stewart stars as L.B. Jeffries, a world traveling magazine photographer accustomed to living a fast pace active lifestyle. When Jefferies injures himself taking a risky picture he is immobilized, confined to a wheelchair inside his apartment for two months. Bored with his uneventful life he becomes completely obsessed with the lives of his neighbors spending the majority of his waking hours watching them from his window. To obtain a better view he begins using a telescopic lens from one of his cameras. By watching his neighbors through the camera he assumes the role of both a spectator and a voyeur. This contributes to the creation of a movie being played right outside Jeffries window. In this movie within the movie his neighbors' lives become the subject for the plot. Each window represents a different film screen, each of which is focused upon only when Jeffries directs his attention to it. One of the central themes in Rear Window is marriage, or more specifically Jefferies' fear of marriage. Through his voyeuristic habits he is able to see the strenuous complications that arise from marriage and relationships in his neighbors' lives. Each of their stories carries a theme that is associated pursuit and commitment of marriage: the newlywed couple beginning their life together, the depressed Miss Lonelyhearts who desperately seeks companionship, the happy couple who sleep under the stars on their fire escape, and most importantly the bitter Thorwalds whose marriage reaches an abrupt termination. He witnesses both the anxieties associated with the beginning of a marriage and the heartache of relationships ending. The plots that are played out before his eyes become more important than his own personal life. In fact, Jeffries renounces the idea of marriage due to the scenes he witnesses from within his apartment. He is currently involved in a relationship with his long-time girlfriend Lisa Freemont, played by Grace Kelley. Lisa is beautiful, intelligent, sophisticated, and madly in love with Jefferies, he even admits that “she's too perfect.” Yet he is still unwilling to marry her despite her desperate attempts to convince him to get engaged. Jefferies claims that Lisa is “just not the right girl for [him]” because she is too committed to high society and materialistic for him. Jefferies barely acknowledges her and focuses most of his attention on watching the neighbors' apartments specifically the Thorwalds. She is unable to divert his attention from the window even with the most forward flirtations. It is not until she puts herself on the other side and into the movie that he becomes interested in her. Lisa finally becomes the subject of his gaze and only then does Jeffries show any sexual attraction towards her. Near the end of the movie when Lisa breaks into Thorwald's apartment, Jeffries does not see the same Lisa he saw when she stood by him and sat in his lap. This dangerous act of bravery and courage proves to Jefferies that she is capable of more than he previously thought. By exposing her willingness to take risks he sees that there is more to her than high society and fashion. He now looks upon a guilty intruder exposed by a dangerous man threatening her with punishment Mulvey 207 . He is aroused by this new spontaneous side of her. From this scene we see that Lisa Freemont cannot become a part of the movie until she becomes a character in the movie within the movie. This creates a new perception of Lisa for Jeffries and clears away many of his marriage anxieties, providing closure to their dispute and foreshadowing a relationship and eventually a marriage between the two.

Each window Jeffries observes contains a plot which portrays a different view of marriage. At first, the newlyweds show a relationship full of joy and happiness with much hope for the future. The husband is shown as he...
tracking img