Double Indemnity: Love of Manipulation or Manipulation of Love?

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Double Indemnity: Love of Manipulation or Manipulation of Love?

“The basic tool for the manipulation of reality is the manipulation of words. If you can control the meaning of words, you can control the people who must use the words” (Phillip K. Dick). Manipulation in this book can be summed up in one phrase: It takes two to tango. This dance takes total control of the manipulator and the person being manipulated. Beauty and lust are two common methods of manipulating others. This novel successfully portrays the manipulation of two very clever women through their full and utter control of Walter Huff. In the book Double Indemnity, the author James Cain describes women as manipulators and clearly shows their power to negatively affect men. He illustrates this through the characters Phyllis and Lola. In extensively flirting with Mr. Huff, Phyllis was able to manipulate him into killing Mr. Nirdlinger, leaving her free of any punishment linking her to the murder. James Cain proficiently uses Phyllis’ character to emphasize the power of cruel manipulation used effectively by this woman. This is a reoccurring theme throughout the three literary time periods: Classic, Cozy, and Hard Boiled. The women in this story are powerful users of manipulation due to their beauty, which feeds Huff’s most fundamental emotions. These emotions are: being loved, cared for, a sense of belonging, and inflating their sense of self. With Phyllis’ relationship with Huff, “She is wholly coquettish as she woos Walter into her scheme to kill her husband. She even says she loves her husband, but shortly afterwards the repulsive side of her character reveals itself in her comment that they would be doing her husband a favor by killing him” (Beetz). Mr. Huff is an intelligent man who can plan and scheme a course of action. He hardly shows weakness of emotion and effortlessly completes the murder of Mr. Nirdlinger. Mr. Huff followed his script with ease and serenity. Walter’s downfall was...
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