Rebecca "Gender Archetypes"

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Gender Archetypes

Based on the novel by Daphne du Maurier, considered as a women’s novel - with all the negative connotations this might have had at time - before becoming a literary masterpiece, the film “Rebecca” by Alfred Hitchcock is a rich document that provides interesting material on social and gender prototypes. This can be explored in different aspects; here we will be interested in gender representation throughout the image of the two main female characters and the antinomy they create from one another but also in contrast to the male personifications in the story. The position of women in Rebecca is a difficult one, each feminine character embodies a female prototype very present in patriarchal society, in large traits the saint and the whore or the good woman and the bad one. Duality is an issue that is constantly present in this film: light and dark, blonde and brunette, good and evil, absence and presence, etc. Hitchcock has also been criticized by feminist authors for his way of representing women in his films perceived as hostile or misogynous, they are often victimized or in danger and are subject to a specific “masculine” gaze. Laura Mulvey develops this last argument in reference to some of Hitchcock’s films, such as Marnie or Vertigo but also Rear Window. For the author Hitchcock uses an “eroticising masculine gaze” to place the woman as an object, in Rebecca this observation is less apparent as the plot of the film does not allow this type of observation to be fully valid. Nevertheless as it has been noted in Mark Duguid’s article, Hitchcock and women, that: “Hitchcock is often thought of as a director who felt uncomfortable with, and even hostile to women. There is plenty of evidence to support this view, in his life and in his films, but there is also evidence that he admired strong, independent women, at a time when these characteristics where often considered undesirable.” Even though the...
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