The Bird Motif Of Hitchcock 's Films Revisited

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Robin Wood, in Hitchcock’s Films Revisited, argues that much of the meaning that the audience derives from Psycho involves spectatorship through character development.1 What makes Psycho such a timeless film is its intricate and extensive use of symbols. One symbol never really takes precedence over the other, and are largely left up to the viewer’s interpretation. Psycho’s symbols have not been discussed in great detail based on the information presented in the readings thus far this semester, but this dissertation will attempt to illuminate the purpose of at least one of these symbols: that of the bird. Hitchcock uses the bird both obviously and ambiguously throughout the film. These instances, which are primarily psychological and sexual in nature, are developed through the film’s two central characters, Marion Crane and Norman Bates, and reveal fundamental truths about the psyche and about human nature in general. The bird motif, despite being a central element of Hitchcock’s films, was developed before the action of the film even commences. This film was based off of a book, of the same name, by Robert Bloch. In the novel, the central female protagonist’s name is Mary, and in the film, it is Marion. Both women, however, share the same last name: Crane.2,6 Cranes, like Marion herself, “spen[d] much of their time in self-directed activities to maintain life.”3 Marion lives very much in her own microcosm, with a noncommittal man and a mundane office job as its stars.
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