Vertigo and The Yellow Wallpaper
The 1958 film Vertigo is surrounded by themes of control, dominance, and illusion surrounding a male and female power struggle. One of Vertigos main themes is to create the perfect woman. This is also seen in the story The Yellow Wallpaper. The parallels with Vertigo’s protagonist’s quest for the ideal woman are evident with John and the treatment of his wife. John takes the authority over his wife like how Scottie took authority over Judy when he tries to recreate Madeline’s image. Although John and Scottie are similar in character, their motives are different. John wants to keep his wife quite as she slips slowly into madness. She is left helpless and bedridden but he just ignores her pleas for help. After Scottie witnesses Madeline’s death, he becomes completely lost in his world of fantasy and is motivated to transform Judy. While Scottie loses his sanity, John does not. It is John’s wife who loses her sanity in The Yellow Wallpaper while Judy is the sane one in Vertigo. While both characters are different in their means of control, their dominance and desire for control over women is apparent.
In Vertigo, Scottie is driven to transform Judy into Madeline even though he does not know why. “He made you over just like I made you over—only better. Not only the clothes and the hair, but the looks and the manners and the words . . . And then what did he do? Did he train you? Did he rehearse you? Did he tell you exactly what to do and what to say?”. Scottie says this as he drags Judy up the tower to throw her off. For the first time there is a similarity between him and the antagonist Gavin Elster.
Although John is obviously the villain in “The Yellow Wallpaper” the context of the story would like us to believe this is not true. While John’s treatment of his wife’s depression is wrong, he does not necessarily do anything to make it worse. Just by ignoring her he is mistreating her. The problem with John in the story is that...
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