In this essay, I shall try to illustrate whether analysing the movie Rear Window as a classical example of the Freudian concept of voyeurism, is appropriate. Voyeurism is defined in The Penguin dictionary of psychology as:
"Voyeurism: characterized by a pattern of sexual behaviour in which one's preferred means of sexual arousal is the clandestine observing of others when they are disrobing, nude or actually engaged in sexual activity. Arousal is dependent upon the observed person(s) not being aware of their being observed. (Arthur S. Reber, 1985, p.825)".
Freud used the term "scopophilia" to describe the initial stages of the tendency to look. According to Freud, scopophilia can be active and passive. What is known to us as voyeurism is the active form of scopophilia. He believed that the first stage we might experience the need to look and get pleasure from it, is our childhood. Freud also believed that during our childhood years, the discovery of our sexual identity is linked to the perception of women as the "weak sex". He thought that the male child instinctively knows that by having a phallus he can give sexual pleasure to the powerful figure of the mother. That gives the male child the felling of superiority opposite the female who thinks that it used to have a penis too but she has been castrated. That is why her role in life is passive.
Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window is, in my opinion, an example of how Freudian theory can be applied to classical Hollywood narrative. The movie centres around a middle-aged photographer (Jeff) who has been immobilised due to an accident he had in the line of work. He spends the last days of his "captivity" looking outside his window. His talent for observation leads him into suspecting that his neighbour killed his wife. In his effort to prove this to his detective friend, he is being assisted by his girlfriend (Lisa) and his nurse (Stella).
This film constructs a very powerful... [continues]
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