A Thematic Analysis Of Psycho

1590 words - 7 pages

Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho has been commended for forming the archetypical basis of all horror films that followed its 1960 release. The mass appeal that Psycho has maintained for over three decades can undoubtedly be attributed to its universality. In Psycho, Hitchcock allows the audience to become a subjective character within the plot to enhance the film's psychological effects for an audience that is forced to recognise its own neurosis and psychological inadequacies as it is compelled to identify, for varying lengths of time, with the contrasting personalities of the film's main characters. Hitchcock conveys an intensifying theme in Psycho, that bases itself on the unending subconscious ...view middle of the document...

It is with Marion's character that Hitchcock first introduces the notion of a split personality to the audience. Throughout the first part of the film, Marion's reflection is often noted in several mirrors and windows. Hitchcock is therefore able to create a voyeuristic sensation within the audience as it can visualise the effects of any situation through Marion's conscious mind. In the car dealership, for example, Marion enters the secluded bathroom in order to have privacy while counting her money. Hitchcock, however, with upper camera angles and the convenient placing of a mirror is able to convey the sense of an ever lingering conscious mind that makes privacy impossible. Hitchcock brings the audience into the bathroom with Marion and allows it to struggle with its own values and beliefs while Marion makes her own decision and continues with her journey.The split personality motif reaches the height of its foreshadowing power as Marion battles both sides of her conscience while driving on an ominous and seemingly endless road toward the Bates Motel. Marion wrestles with the voices of those that her crime and disappearance has affected while the audience is compelled to recognise as to why it can so easily identify with Marion despite her wrongful actions.As Marion's journey comes to an end at the Bates Motel, Hitchcock has successfully made the audience a direct participant within the plot. The suspicion and animosity that Marion feels while at the motel is felt by the audience. As Marion shudders while hearing Norman's mother yell at him, the audience's suspicions are heightened as Hitchcock has, at this point, made Marion the vital link between the audience and the plot.The initial confrontation between Marion and Norman Bates is used by Hitchcock to subtly and slowly sway the audience's sympathy from Marion to Norman. Hitchcock compels the audience to identify with the quiet and shy character whose devotion to his invalid mother has cost him his own identity. After Marion and Norman finish dining, Hitchcock has secured the audience's empathy for Norman and the audience is made to question its previous relationship with Marion whose criminal behaviour does not compare to Norman's seemingly honest and respectable lifestyle. The audience is reassured, however, when Marion, upon returning to her room, decides to return the money and face the consequences of her actions.Upon the introduction of Norman, Hitchcock introduces the first of several character parallels within Psycho. The clash between Marion and Norman, although not apparent to the audience until the end of the film, is one of neurosis versus psychosis. The compulsive and obsessive actions that drove Marion to steal the money is recognisable, albeit unusual behaviour, that the audience embraces as its sympathy is primarily directed towards her character. The terror that Hitchcock conveys to the audience manifests itself once the audience learns that it empathised with a psychotic...

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