The Persecution of Women in the Films Blackmail and Frenzy Through the Use of Sound and Language

Topics: Gender, Sexism, Woman Pages: 10 (3358 words) Published: May 10, 2005
The issue of female persecution throughout many of Hitchcock's films has been fiercely contested, none more so than the controversial issue of assault and the attempted rape of a woman. Views that Hitchcock represents the archetypal misogynist are supported, Modelski suggesting that his films invite "his audience to indulge their most sadistic fantasies against the female" (18). Through both the manipulation of sound and the use of language, none more so than in Blackmail and Frenzy, the idea of rape and violence does effectively silence and subdue not only the women in the films, but the also the women watching them (18).

It can be said that Hitchcock had in some regard, the upmost contempt and disregard for the female character and its expression throughout the majority of his films, showing both a lack of "incontrovertible evidence" (101) and a lack of restrainment in his depiction of a highly problematic and violent incident, the rape and the "attempted" (almost subsequent) murder of a woman. Regardless of how violently depicted the aforementioned incident was, it is the female's inevitable exclusion through sound and language that leads to her inevitable downfall, displaying both films' attempts "to appropriate femininity and to destroy it", alluding to Modelski's curious comparison of "sympathy and misogyny" (110).

It is this very comparison therefore that is the key to understanding why exactly the figure of the woman is so victimized. Despite the severity of the discrimination, and how it is depicted in either film, there appears to be an underlying sympathy due to the lack of communication the female has within "the man's world" due to the individual's exclusion from sound, as Yacowar states in his analysis of Blackmail, stating that "It works as a brilliant examination of the limits and problems of human communication" (103).

It is the purpose of this essay therefore to demonstrate that there is a profound influence in the use of sound and language in relation to the discrimination of women. By showing that the manipulation of sound and language in regards to the films' narrative structure is responsible for this apparent persecution, a clearer understanding should be gained as to why the figure of the female is observed in this form.

In Blackmail, the discrimination of women appears to be the main focus throughout the majority of the film, clearly establishing a male dominated, misogynistic world from the beginning. The opening establishes and embodies the world of the justice system, "the man's world", accompanied by its seriousness, organisation and harshness in its outlook on reality, the depiction of a typical arrest, identification and trial of a convicted criminal. However, this "world", according to Wood is threatened, stating that it is somewhat disrupted by the protagonist's "frivolousness, selfishness, and triviality" (272).

It becomes clear that the female protagonist, Alice, appears to be provocative and impatient, despondent at the prospect that she has been kept waiting at the expense of the British legal system, although she is more than happy to share a joke with the nearest detective in order to incite some form of reaction from her lover, Frank, a fellow detective. Stating that she expects "the entire machinery of Scotland Yard to be held up to please" her only aggravates an already awkward situation, emphasising her unwillingness to conform to the rules and regulations, expecting the law to accommodate her every necessitity.

Furthermore, irrespective of Alice's standpoint on the British legal system, it is her annoyance in being kept waiting a matter of minutes that provides the ensuing events to take place and can be argued that she is responsible for the situation she puts herself into, causing a disagreement between herself and Frank to leave with another man, the artist and her "assaulter". Although the very nature of the Alice's agenda is to be...

Bibliography: Spoto, Donald. The Art Of Alfred Hitchcock. New York: Doubleday, 1976
Spoto, Donald
Weis, Elisabeth. The Silent Scream: Alfred Hitchcock 's Soundtrack. Great Britain: Associated University Presses, 1982.
Wood, Robin. Hitchcock 's Films Revisited. Oxford: Columbia University Press, 1989.
Yacowar, Maurice. Hitchcock 's British Films. Great Britain: Archon Books, 1977.
Frenzy. Alfred Hitchcock. Universal Studios, 1972
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