Homosexuality in Hitchcock's "Rope"

Topics: Sexual intercourse, BDSM, Human sexuality Pages: 7 (2483 words) Published: August 26, 2013
Discuss the representation of homosexuality in Sigmund Freud's "The Sexual Aberrations" and Alfred Hitchcock's Rope. .

Based on the true murder case of Leopold and Loeb, Alfred Hitchcock's Rope (1948) depicts the tale of two intelligent young men and there attempts to execute the perfect murder. With the entire film taking place in one apartment, we watch as Brandon Shaw and Phillip Morgan strangle there friend David, hide his body in a trunk, and proceed to have a party, all the while with the corpse hidden in plain sight. In this essay, I will address the issue of homosexuality within the text, a theory which, due to the strict nature of the times, is only hinted at within the movie. To do this, I will use Freud's essay on The Sexual Aberrations (1905) and provide parallels between the two texts. In particular I will focus on Freud's discussion of degeneration, sadism, masochism and finally fetishism.

What is interesting when discussing homosexuality within this text, especially when viewed in context of what was believed to be sexually normal at the time, is whether the two murderers sexuality actually has any bearing on the crime itself. Or, more to the point, (and particularly when viewed with relevance to Freud's Aberrations) is it the sexuality, or society's view on the sexuality that led Shaw and Morgan to the conclusion of murder? Freud, when discussing the term "degenerate", disregards any preconceived beliefs of a link between it and homosexuality. He argues that a simple digression from normality does not qualify a person as degenerate (i.e morally corrupt). Therefore, an invert, or person of a homosexual inclination is not, at least as a result of their natural sexuality, a person of degenerate nature. To Freud, degeneration is as much a possibility within heterosexuals as homosexuals. The deviation from normality, in itself, has no bearing on it. “That the inverted are not degenerates in this qualified sense can be seen from the following facts:
1. The inversion is found among persons who otherwise show no marked deviation from the normal. 2. It is found also among persons whose capabilities are not disturbed, who on the contrary are distinguished by especially high intellectual development...” (Freud, The Sexual Aberrations, 1905) So, having established that the chances of degeneration are equal across the playing for field for all people of varying sexuality, are our two protagonists degenerate? The domineering force of Brandon Shaw would seem to fit nicely into Freud's second category of being "distinguished by especially high intellectual development…" and, despite the guilt that slowly riddles itself into Phillip's slightly cold demeanor, there is no hiding the obvious pleasure both gained from the planning and executing of their "perfect murder". This pleasure would appear to be twofold; firstly in the physical act of the strangulation (note the phallic-like weapon of choice, changed from the original blunt chisel used by Leopold and Loeb), and secondly in the intellectual challenge and sense of superiority gained from committing and then hiding the act. These divulgences lend themselves towards the category of sadism. From the offset, the feeling of Brandon's brooding dominance over Phillip is obvious. His quietly authoritarian manner is quickly proven to be the driving force in the relationship; a fact that he relishes, and Philip excepts. This is exemplary of a sadomasochistic partnership. The Online Oxford dictionary defines sadism as, "the tendency to derive pleasure, especially sexual gratification, from inflicting pain, suffering, or humiliation on others" (http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/sadism?q=sadism), and is, according to Freud, almost inseparable from its counterpart, masochism, the desire to be controlled and dominated by another. His belief that the two behaviors are often found coexisting within the same person, is explored in our two main characters....
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